Wisconsin permitless carry bill would allow felons to possess antique guns

A Wisconsin permitless carry bill is taking heat for a clause that would allow felons and people under domestic violence restraining orders to possess antique firearms.

Felons have argued they need the guns in order to hunt, but anti-gun violence groups argued the measure, SB 169, is dangerous and could put lives at risk, the Associated Press reported.

“These are people we as a society have identified as being at high risk (of shooting someone),” said Jeri Bonavia, executive director of the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort Education Fund, a group that has formally opposed the bill. “The only people who would benefit from this would be people in the gun industry looking for a new market. It’s very calculated legislation to increase the consumer base for firearms.”

The proposal’s main goal is to allow lawful gun owners to carry concealed firearms in the state without first having to obtain a permit. The measure, introduced by Sen. David Craig and Rep. Mary Felzkowski, would keep intact Wisconsin’s current permitting system for those who want to obtain a permit but would not force people to do so.

Felons are currently prohibited from owning guns in the Badger State, and people under domestic violence restraining orders are often required to surrender their firearms. However, a provision in the bill would allow anyone to own antique firearms, including single-shot muskets and pistols. They could also possess lever-action rifles, revolvers, early semi-automatic rifles and handguns.

Felzkowski said the provision was meant to mirror federal law, which allows felons to possess antique guns so long as state law does not prohibit the practice.

“We’re going with what federal law has,” she said. “If you have hate in your heart, you will find a weapon. I wish we could legislate people being nice to each other but that doesn’t seem to be working out very well in our country.”

The bill was approved in September by the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety and now heads to the full Senate for a vote.