This August and November, Kenosha County Residents will vote for a new Sheriff. Three of the candidates think that Concealed Carry licensees ought to be able to carry a gun while they pick up their marriage license at the County Clerk’s Office, pay their taxes to the County Treasurer, obtain a birth certificate at the Register of Deeds office, or even attend a county board meeting. Two think you should be legally forced leave your gun in your car.
Wisconsin was the 49th state to approve concealed carry – then came the last state, Illinois. This author moved to Wisconsin in 2006. I had recently learned that the governor, then Governor Jim Doyle vetoed a concealed carry law. I then learned that the legislature was only a vote or two short of OVERRIDING that veto. Stupidly, I called my state senator, Bob Wirch (D) and lambasted him. “Why would you vote against this common-sense law?!” I asked angrily. To my embarrassment, Sen. Wirch told me I was wrong. He voted in favor of concealed carry and even voted to override the governor’s veto, TWICE. I learned two things that day – 1, Don’t assume something before you complain, and 2, concealed carry is a bi-partisan issue. That’s right, you can carry a concealed weapon in each and every of the 50 states. Blue and Red governors have signed laws to allow the common man or woman to carry a concealed firearm in public.
Wisconsin law completely bans carrying guns in certain places – and local governments, like Cities, Villages, Towns, and Counties can’t change this:
Police Departments and Sheriff’s Departments
Jails, Prisons, and Secure Mental Health Facilities
County, State and Federal Courthouses (Municipal Courts also, but only when in session)
In any Airport beyond Security Checkpoints
Other Misc. Places Listed in Statute
In 2011, despite liberals decrying imminent wild-west-like-shootings, the legislature voted for concealed carry and Governor Walker signed it into law. The legislature protected the above locations. It also allowed building owners to post “no guns allowed” signs on privately owned buildings and public buildings. They have the force of law, meaning, that if your neighborhood grocery store posts a sign that is at least 5″ by 7″ that says “No guns allowed”, and you go inside anyway, you could be subject to a non-criminal $25 citation. In 2011, the City of Kenosha and Kenosha County Board, both heavily controlled by liberals, got the ball rolling on putting these signs up. The City read the fine print and canceled their plans to place the signs up. The Kenosha City Council passed an ordinance on November 11, 2011 that specifically allows concealed carry in City buildings. It was voted on unanimously – by the democratic controlled Council.
Wis. Stat. § 175.60(21)(b) provides that “A person who does not prohibit an individual from carrying a concealed weapon on property – that the person owns or occupies is immune from any liability arising from his or her decision.”
The City wanted immunity from liability. I mean, do any of us genuinely think a “no guns allowed” sign is going to deter murder, robbery, or other serious crimes? This author was an Alderman elected twice to the Kenosha City Council. I carried a gun to each and every meeting. As an Alderman, I had to make tough decisions that affected peoples lives and livelihoods. I had to deny liquor licenses to multiple felons. Even though I stood by my decisions, it was not out of the realm of possibilities that someone might attack me or another Alderman for an action or inaction that affected them. I felt safer with my firearm during the meetings. I was not the only Alderman to carry.
During this time, the County Board ignored the liability issue and put the signs up. This put the self-insured county at risk. If a County Board member or other employee of the county is killed or injured because they needed to leave their loaded gun in the car, they can sue the County… and win. Removing those signs grants the county immunity. That’s one of the reasons Vice-Chair Erin Decker of the Kenosha County Board wants the signs taken down.
“County employees and taxpayers should not be denied the right to protect themselves in county buildings. I also don’t want the taxpayers on the hook if denying them that right gets the county sued. Also, leaving a loaded gun in a car is not a better alternative.” said Decker in a phone interview with KCE.
KCE reached out to the Kenosha Police Public Information Lieutenant Joe Nosalik who did confirm that there is a sizable amount of thefts of firearms from vehicles. A Kenosha Alderman, Anthony Kennedy, urged the County to ban guns in its buildings but won’t put forward a proposal to do the same for the City, which makes him a hypocrite says Decker. In fact, Anthony Kennedy voted to allow guns in City Hall on November 11, 2011.
Sheriff Candidates Weigh In
We asked the five candidates to weight in and 4 of the 5 responded and gave us their take. The two liberal candidates are against and the three conservatives are in favor.
Kenosha County Sheriff’s Sergeant David Zoerner (R)
“I support the county board’s resolution expanding the ability of legally armed, law abiding citizens to carry concealed in permissible county buildings.”
Kenosha Police Officer Tyler Cochran (R)
“I support this move, I believe anyone who is lawfully able to carry a firearm should not be restricted in carrying.”
Kenosha Police Officer Albert “Brian Gonzales” (R)
“Yes. [I support the change] because I like the part of that law that allows the county to make its own decision on what they can do. Something I say all the time when I teach CCW classes…”
Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy James Simmons (D)
“I want to focus on critical law enforcement issues with regards to public safety. All parties affiliation should work together to find a corroborative resolution for gun signs allow or gun signs not allowed. Law enforcement has a lot on its plate with regards to identifying foe or friend in crisis events. We need to trust in our law enforcement community to protect us.”
Kenosha County Officer Friendly Ray Rowe (D)
[No Comment] KCE is told he agrees with Sheriff Beth that the signs should stay up.
Note: Ray Rowe is a liberal democrat and has been his whole life. He signed the “Recall Scott Walker” petition and is only running as a Republican because he knows he has to in order to become elected. He also refused to provide us with a photo to use for this publication so we had to use a Facebook photo.
This Tuesday, June 21st at 7:30, the board will be voting on this issue. The local democratic party is bombarding the board with emails and calls and urging the new conservative-majority board to vote this down. There are very few places that prohibit guns in Kenosha. All of them provide armed security with the exception of schools. Please, go to the meeting and tell the board to remove this dangerous prohibition. You can email the entire board at “firstname.lastname@example.org” or even better, show up and speak at the beginning of the meeting. The liberals are assembling and trying to intimidate the board into voting no.
Allowing concealed carry is the right thing to do.