Legislation would benefit off-duty cops

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Rep. Joe Knilans has co-authored legislation designed to allow off-duty police officers to carry concealed firearms within 1,000 feet of a school.

Knilans said the language of the current law prohibits everyone—off-duty officers included—from carrying near a school.

"Technically, an off-duty officer who was carrying would be in violation of the law if he or she simply drove by a school or showed up to pick up their child," the Janesville Republican said. "This legislation will fix that."

A federal law enacted in 2004 allows qualified law enforcement officers and retired officers to carry a concealed firearm in any jurisdiction in the United States.

Knilans said his proposed state legislation, which was co-authored with Rep. Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, also would ensure that law enforcement applicants would not have to go through the background checks and training courses required of other applicants. Furthermore, the state Department of Justice would be required to issue permits to law enforcement officers at no cost.

"Sometimes, you don't see all the quirks of legislation until after it's written and passed," Knilans said. "We see the problem now and are going back to fix it."

Janesville Police Chief Dave Moore said the state's concealed carry law was poorly written, particularly in its treatment of off-duty officers carrying firearms within 1,000 feet of a school.

He said that while it's unlikely an off-duty officer would be prosecuted for carrying inside the buffer, the law should be fixed. He said he raised those concerns with Knilans and is happy with the lawmaker's reception.

The legislation awaits a committee assignment.

Last updated: 7:17 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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