Gun found on ballfield was concealed-carried

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Frank Schultz
Thursday, June 12, 2014

JANESVILLE—A man whose handgun was found in a softball outfield at the Janesville Youth Sports Complex said he is embarrassed and vows to keep his weapon locked in his car next time.

A player found the loaded, .380 semiautomatic handgun  Sunday during a game, said Aaron Ellis, president of Janesville Youth Baseball and a Janesville police sergeant.

The player turned it over to the umpire. One of the coaches was an off-duty police officer, who called police, Ellis said.

The possibility of banning guns at games was discussed at a Janesville Youth Baseball board meeting this week.

Ellis said the situation is complicated because it appears state law does not allow cities to ban concealed carry in parks, but the baseball group leases Youth Sports Complex fields from the city.

“My choice would be to be able to post it 'no concealed carry.' If that option is available to us, I think that's the way we're going to go,” Ellis said.

Roger Gransee of Whitewater said he was acting as catcher as his granddaughter warmed up for her 12-and-under fastpitch game Sunday when he lost the handgun.

“I am so embarrassed by this, it's unreal. It was just a careless mistake,” Gransee told The Gazette.

Gransee has a permit under the state's concealed-carry law, and concealed carry is not banned in Janesville parks, including the sports complex, police Lt. Keith Lawver said.

The handgun was turned over to a Janesville police officer at the ball field at 5:28 p.m. Sunday, according to the police report.

A detective continues to investigate and will consult with the district attorney's office about the potential for charges, Lawver said.

The city prohibits concealed carry in city buildings “and structures that contain a sign prohibiting the carrying of weapons and firearms,” according to the city website.

According to the State Bar of Wisconsin, municipalities are not allowed to ban firearms on government lands, which includes parks.

Guns can be banned in park shelters and other buildings, however.

Gransee said he usually keeps his gun on his waistband, but he had taken off his shirt on the warm day and didn't want it showing through his T-shirt, so he clipped the holstered gun in his boot. He suspects the gun slipped out as he was kneeling. He didn't notice it was gone until he arrived home that evening.

Gransee said he returned to the ball field early the next morning but could not find it. He continued to retrace his steps and finally called police.

Gransee figured someone found the gun and turned it in.

“Thank goodness somebody did,” he said.

Gransee said he doesn't talk about the fact that he carries a weapon, so few know he does. He carries it in support of Second Amendment rights, he said, and because he has a job that requires him to pick up parts in Waukesha and Milwaukee.

“People are getting shot in Milwaukee and Waukesha all the time. I feel more comfortable that way,” he said.

Gransee said he checks for signs forbidding firearms wherever he goes. He saw a sign at the Youth Sports Complex that forbids alcohol, smoking and pets, he said, but it didn't mention guns.

Nevertheless, the incident has made him think, and he said in the future, he will lock the gun in his car when at sporting events, as he does when he enters buildings where firearms are banned.

It wasn't clear who picked up the gun at the ball field. Lawver said children should never touch a firearm they find.

If an adult finds a gun, and it's safe to do so, they should leave it where it is and contact police, Lawver advised.

As for those who carry firearms, “you need to be very responsible and ensure that the gun is in a safe place at all times and not left lying around where any other person, and particularly children, would have access to it,” Lawver said.

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