Three-quarters of residents interviewed recently in Milwaukee’s central city said they will feel less safe in Milwaukee now that state law allows those with a permit to carry concealed weapons.
Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service interviewed 19 people in Clarke Square on the south side and Lindsay Heights on the north side to find out how they feel about the concealed carry law that took effect on Nov. 1. Of those, 14 said they would feel less safe, two said they would feel more safe and three said it would have no effect on them.
Under the new law, people 21 and older who obtain a permit and prove they have been trained are allowed to carry concealed weapons in most public buildings. Applicants who have passed training courses offered by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources or national or state organizations that certify firearms instructors can qualify, as can those who hold valid concealed carry permits from other states or who have completed military, law enforcement or security firearms training. Convicted felons and people with “mental disabilities” are ineligible for a permit. The law does not specify what constitutes a mental disability.
Public buildings such as the state Capitol and city halls must allow concealed weapons — including guns, billy clubs, lasers and knives (excluding switchblades) — unless a sign is posted forbidding the act. The law allows private businesses and government agencies such as courts, police stations, schools and the airport to post such a sign.
However, that doesn’t make many of those interviewed feel any safer.
“I really don’t like that law because there’s enough people with illegal guns and now every time you get mad or say something to somebody you have no idea if they’re going to pull [a gun] out,” said Stephanie Morris, a Milwaukee resident who was walking in Lindsay Heights.
Clarke Square resident Kelsey Arsenalt said, “I think that it has the potential to be really bad,” she said. “I think that people will make a lot of rash decisions and we will see lot of bad incidents.”
Although most of those interviewed agreed with Morris and Arsenalt, a few said the law makes them feel safer.
“I think we should feel more safe,” said Kristina Dulaney, a Lindsay Heights resident interviewed outside her house. “Other states have made concealed carry a law. If it were a big deal we wouldn’t legalize it in so many states,” she added.
However, Edward Kelly, who was interviewed outside of a convenience store in Lindsay Heights, fears that “you could say something wrong and that may be the straw that broke the camel’s back.” He added that people who carry weapons have “a false sense of braveness” and feel like they don’t have to back down in a confrontation. “That false sense of braveness can get a lot of people in trouble. You can’t bring a life back.”