The Kenosha Library director, Barbara Brattin earns $123,000 per year and lives in Racine, but she is very interested in Kenosha County politics. So interested, in fact, that she tried to interfere with the Spring, 2022 elections by inserting her own, far-left views. As a proud democrat, she championed book clubs that had to do with social justice warriors and other left of center issues, but refused to allow a book club for a conservative group that supported Trump. Brattin was fired from a Colorado library in 2013 for mismanagement. She wants to leave Kenosha and has been applying for jobs elsewhere.
Recently, the Kenosha County Board passed two measures that strongly supported the second amendment. In 2011, when concealed was passed by both Wisconsin houses and signed into law by Governor Scott Walker (D), the City of Kenosha decided against banning guns in public buildings. There are still some places citizens cannot carry under statute and Federal Law, like police departments, schools and courthouses. One place that concealed carry license holders could carry in Kenosha are the Libraries. In 2011, democrats on the County Board ignored the liability issue and posted “No Guns Allowed” signs on all county buildings. Most of these signs are coming down in the coming weeks thanks to the “Red Wave” that scooped up most of the County Board seats.
Brattin voiced her strong opposition to this decision. In protest, she decided to unilaterally order “No Guns Allowed” signs to be placed at all Libraries. She told KCE that she wasn’t granted this authority from the City of Kenosha nor the Library Board of Trustees. Below the image of a gun with a line through it, the text on the signs read:
“Although firearms are banned from this municipal building, the municipality cannot ensure the protection of visitors or its employees from individuals who unlawfully enter with firearms, nor does it offer protection against the action of violators.”
This is a common attempt to subvert the plain language of Wis. Stat. § 175.60(21)(b)-(d) that clearly states:
“A person that 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 its decision.”
When KCE confronted Brattin about the signs, she told us that Kenosha Ordinance allows her to act alone in posting the signs. She then cited Kenosha Ordinance 11.065. This Kenosha ordinance mimics Wis. Stat. §941.235.
11.065. – Carrying Firearm in Public Building.
A. Prohibition. It shall be unlawful for any person to go armed with a firearm in any building owned or leased by the State or any political subdivision of the State.
B. Exception. Paragraph A shall not apply to any of the following:
1. Peace officers or armed forces or military personnel who go armed in the line of duty or to any person duly authorized by the chief of police of any city, village or town, the chief of the capitol police, or the sheriff of any county to possess a firearm in any building under Paragraph A. For purposes of this section peace officer does not include a commission warden who is not a state-certified commission warden.
2. A qualified out-of-state law enforcement officer, as defined in Wis. Stats. § 941.23(1)(g), to whom Wis. Stats. §§ 941.23(2)(b)1. to 3., applies.
3. A former officer, as defined in Wis. Stats. § 941.23(1)(c), to whom Wis. Stats. §§ 941.23 (2) (c) 1. to 7., applies.
4. A licensee, as defined in Wis. Stats. § 175.60(1)(d), or an out-of-state licensee, as defined in Wis. Stats. § 175.60(1)(g).
There is a fatal flaw in Brattin’s legal interpretation of the law. She failed to read the fourth exception that points to “concealed carry license holders” and “out-of-state concealed carry license holders.” We educated her on this. She admitted she messed up, saying in part:
“The library is always open to constructive feedback about how we can serve our community better. Mr. Mathewson’s challenge this week is a good example.”
This means her signs were illegal. KCE immediately notified the City, by means of the City Council, Mayor and Aldermen of an imminent lawsuit seeking to ask a judge to order Brattin to remove the signs.
Kenosha Alderman David Mau of the 8th District then interjected, saying in part:
“In the short amount of time since the spring elections, this is the 2nd time you’ve (Brattin) used taxpayer funds for illegal and partisan political purposes. My constituents would find me remiss if I waited for a 3rd time to speak up.
In a time when our city is attempting to raise taxes and our families are hurting from inflation, you seem very willing to spend their money for your own agenda.
Regardless what any individual feels about firearms, I don’t believe the wording of the Statute, nor the concern of liability for the City is disputed. Kenosha Council passed a law on this in 2011 as well.
Will you be taking the signs down? Will you be refunding the taxpayers, including what was spent on the cancelled partisan election interview?”
As of yesterday, all “No Guns Signs Allowed” have been removed from the libraries. They have been replaced with extremely confusing signs with the full text of the ordinance, sloppily including the headline of the next ordinance.
Brattin should stay in her lane. If she couldn’t understand the ordinance, how does she expect citizens to? In our opinion, these signs should come down too. We don’t have to sue the library, and while we were happy to, we have bigger fish to fry. In the meantime Brattin should stick to library, not politics. We have a great public library system. She should stop polluting it with her partisan politics.