In the eyes of the Republican-controlled legislative committee, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen overstepped his authority when he specified that concealed carry applicants would need to complete a minimum of four hours of training before they could obtain a CCW permit.
Yesterday, the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules voted to remove the minimum four-hour mandate from the CCW law, which went into effect on Nov. 1.
From AG Van Hollen’s perspective, he was just providing clarity to an ambiguous portion of the law.
When Van Hollen testified before state lawmakers he explained his reasoning for the four-hour minimum training requirement. He said the law called for training but did not say how much, he iterated the four hours of training wasn’t an arbitrary number, but an industry standard, and he noted that not having a minimum requirement would make it next to impossible for the DOJ to verify that an applicant had completed some training.
Additionally, Van Hollen said that, thus far, the 20,000 CCW applicants had not found the requirement too onerous.
Nevertheless, Republican committee members found the four-hour minimum mandate to be too restrictive. They voted to suspend that requirement in addition to a requirement that called for a signed statement from an instructor verifying successful completion of a course.
“There’s no reason why we have to micromanage how people obtain their concealed carry permit,” state Sen. Glenn Grothman, (R-West Bend) told postcrescent.com.
“Other states with no minimum training requirements haven’t had any problems and there’s going to be no problem in the state of Wisconsin either,” he said.
Moving forward, the DOJ will be “very liberal in accepting applications unless we have reason to believe there has been fraud or dishonesty or some aspect of the law has been disregarded,” AG Van Hollen told postcrescent.com.
And Democrats on the committee were rueful that AG Van Hollen’s mandate wasn’t upheld.
“Without the provisions of four hours, we have a subjective standard that anybody is going to be able to meet,” said state Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison.
What’s interesting about this decision is that it may have serious repercussions down the road.
Some have argued that having no minimum training requirement may actually be worse than having a four-hour mandate because it leaves the door open for future legislators to impose stricter requirements due to the ambiguous nature of the law, i.e. some unspecified amount of training is still required.
Others suggest that this lax stance may jeopardize Wisconsin’s ability to enter into CCW reciprocity agreements with other states.