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Carrying concealed firearms in Wisconsin

Posted on September 6, 2013

Dan DurbinThere are mixed emotions about Wisconsin now being a state that allows a person to carry a concealed weapon. John Lappley, a Waukesha County deputy, and Tim Fischer, an NRA and hunter safety instructor from West Bend, welcome the idea, but they both agree that “carrying” is not for everyone.

“Actually, we started this business so people can figure out if they should carry,” Fisher said.  “People have to realize the license to carry a firearm comes with significant responsibilities.  You can’t just expect to fire your weapon and call your lawyer if things go wrong.”

Their business, Wisconsin Concealed Carry Group, LLC, was started not just to train people, but also to get more people involved in the shooting sports overall.

 “This isn’t just about concealed carry,” Lappley said. “This is about getting more people involved in target shooting at the range.  The more people we have at the range means greater protection when our Second Amendment becomes jeopardized.”

Fischer said that their course is not just what the state mandates for certification, it’s more in depth and is for people who may never carry themselves but who want to know more about it in case a loved one carries.

 “We get a lot of people who are just curious,” Fischer said.  “We feel like it’s our job to educate people about the responsibility of concealed carry. It’s not our job to convince someone they need to carry.  If someone goes through our course and decides that carrying isn’t for them, that is fine with us. “

Lappley, who has been in the Waukesha Sheriff’s Department tactical unit since 1991, said that their course differs from others in that they can provide students with a perspective of a police officer.

 “I will tell you that not all police officers are fans of giving the public the ability to carry,” he said.  “I give students the knowledge they need to have if they are ever approached by an officer and they are carrying.  Whether they are pulled over for a traffic violation or they are approached at a public event, I know what people need to do to make an officer feel comfortable around them.”

 Despite it being legal for someone to carry if they simply have a valid hunter safety permit, Fisher thinks that more training is needed.

 “In terms of safety, you do get a good education in hunter safety,” Fischer said.  “But there is so much more involved in concealed carry training than just keeping the main safety rules.  You have to think about liability.  You have to think about what holster is best for you.  You have to think about the correct firearm.  That isn’t covered in hunter safety.”

 Having taken the course, I feel that anyone who wants to carry a concealed weapon should take a concealed carry course and not rely on just having their hunter safety certificate, which is all the law requires.  I’m sure some NRA (which I am a member of)  folks will freak out about that statement, but it would be anyone’s best interest to figure out what could get them in a pickle if they shoot when they’re not supposed to.

 “Your objective when carrying is to get out of a bad situation,” Lappley said.  “You’re not looking for a fight and you’re not a police officer.  Your best option will always remain not to get in a bad situation in the first place.  For instance, if you’re in a mall and hear shots, you’re not supposed to run to the shots to get the bad guy, you’re supposed to run away from the shots.”

 You would think that concealed carry instructors would be packing heat at all times, but Fischer said that isn’t always the case.

 “For one thing, they are places you can’t carry,” he said.  “Near schools or in federal buildings for instance, you can’t carry.  But I have found that I don’t go near places where I need to carry, like where crime rates are high, for instance.  The key to this entire process is not to get into trouble in the first place.”

Lappley and Fischer have both made a point in keeping their classes small, and women-friendly.

 “We just feel that by keeping classes small people have more ability to ask questions without feeling intimidated,” Lappley said. “Women particularly might feel intimidated coming to a class with 50 men in it.  Small classes mean more personal attention and better training.”