Whitewater council looking at limits on concealed carry
Council members unanimously voted Tuesday to gather more information before deciding whether to restrict firearms in at least seven buildings throughout Whitewater. The decision comes two weeks after Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill legalizing concealed carry, making Wisconsin the 49th state to do so. The law is set to take effect Nov. 1.
Parks and Recreation Director Matt Amundson brought the issue to the council’s attention after hearing concerns from staff over weapons that could be carried into some facilities. Those buildings include the municipal building, library, White Building, armory, Starin Park Community Building, Cravath Lake Community Center and Train Depot building.
Some council members suggested additional public buildings could be considered.
“I can’t imagine why anyone would be carrying a gun into those places to begin with,” Councilwoman Marilyn Kienbaum said.
Most businesses and local governments will have the opportunity to decide whether they’ll place their own restrictions on firearms. The law might permit concealed carry, but store owners can choose to post signs prohibiting weapons.
Universities also can make that decision. The UW System already has a provision in place banning dangerous weapons from all its campuses, but the new law supersedes it.
UW System spokesman David Giroux said he had conversations with university chancellors and police chiefs indicating most would implement some restrictions.
What’s still unknown is how the law—or prohibitions—will be welcomed by the public.
Alderman Lynn Binnie admitted he doesn’t support concealed carry, but he believed making restrictions in public buildings could stir up opposition.
“My concern is we’re going to hear from some of the carry advocates that say that the whole purpose of this law doesn’t relate to (just) some of these buildings,” he said, “and that citizens should be able to protect citizens from other people.”
The state law already will implement a number of restrictions, including places where gun owners would consume alcohol. Police departments and courthouses are off limits, as are public school grounds.
The council indicated it could discuss the issue at least two more times before adopting any kind of ordinance. Amundson recommended checking with other municipalities to help create a model ordinance that could be modified by the council.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, City Manager Kevin Brunner updated the council on the city’s financial status following approval of the state budget.
Reduction of shared revenue, transportation aids and other allowances will cut $218,911 from the city’s general fund. Savings generated through employee insurance and retirement contributions offset most of that, leaving a $53,231 shortfall.
Brunner said that’s much less than initially projected, which was about $97,000.