Wisconsin Supreme Court: Passengers can carry guns on Madison buses

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that passengers with concealed-carry permits can carry guns on Madison city buses.

The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reports the 5-2 decision reversed previous rulings by the Court of Appeals and a circuit judge.

Metro Transit in Madison had prohibited firearms and other weapons on its buses since 2005, but gun owners challenged that rule in 2013 after passage of Act 35, the state’s concealed carry law. Act 35 stated local governments could ban guns in specific locations, but buses were not specifically listed in those locations.

Metro Transit refused to change its rule, prompting Wisconsin Carry, Inc. and one of its members to sue in 2014. The group argued Act 35 does not allow local governments to choose the locations where lawful gun owners are allowed to carry firearms.

Both a circuit judge and the Court of Appeals ruled Act 35 only preempts counties, cities, towns or villages from imposing stricter regulations that the state’s gun law, and does not apply to the transit commission’s “agency rule.”

However, the Supreme Court disagreed and sided with the plaintiffs, ruling that Act 35 does indeed apply to Metro Transit and thus lawful gun owners with concealed carry permits should be allowed to take guns onto buses.

Concluding a nearly 50-page majority opinion, Justice Daniel Kelly wrote the following: “We also hold that the Concealed-Carry Statute, Wis. Stat. § 175.60, preempts the City’s authority to restrict a licensee’s right to carry concealed weapons on the City’s buses so long as the licensee complies with the statute’s requirements.”

According to the Associated Press, Wisconsin Carry President Nik Clark believes the ruling will have an effect on other cities as well.

“There are other mass transit entities around the state that have prohibitive policies,” he said. “Once we review the decision, we’ll have a better understanding of how far-reaching it is.”

Metro Transit’s spokesman Mick Rusch said the organization will comply with the law but is concerned the ruling will negatively impact passenger safety.