MADISON (AP) — Concealed carry applicants in Wisconsin would have to learn about the use of deadly force and how to avoid violent situations under new rules the state Justice Department has proposed.
DOJ has been operating under temporary rules governing how the agency issues permits since the concealed carry law went into effect. Those rules require training but don't lay out any specifics.
The new rules not only require instruction on deadly force and how to stay out of trouble but mandate training on firearm safety rules and how to safely use, handle, transport and store firearms and ammunition.
Training class sizes would be limited to 50 students per instructor.
The rules also would add steps for applicants to prove they received training.
They still must submit a certificate or affidavit from their instructor or the training organization noting the course was completed, just as the emergency rules require, but they also would have to include a signed affirmation from the instructor or information on the certificate or affidavit or a signed statement from the applicant that the training met all the standards.
The new rules come less than a year after Republican lawmakers and the National Rifle Association balked at DOJ's attempts to impose even a minimum hour requirement on training. But agency spokeswoman Dana Brueck said the standards in the permanent rules shouldn't affect anyone.
"The clarifications made in regards to the definitions of a firearms safety and training course are largely what firearms instructors are already teaching," she said in an email.
Wisconsin's concealed carry law allows any state resident at least 21 years old who can legally possess a gun to obtain a concealed carry permit from DOJ. The law states applicants must receive training through courses conducted by national or state organizations that certify firearm instructors, courses offered by police departments, technical colleges and universities, courses for police officers and private detectives or state Department of Natural Resources hunter safety courses. They also must provide written proof they've completed such a course.
The law left DOJ to flesh out the details. The agency has been operating under temporary, emergency rules designed to get concealed carry off the ground since the law took effect in November.
Those rules require applicants to receive training but don't lay out any specifics on a curriculum. The agency tried to impose a minimum four-hour training standard and require applicants to obtain an instructor's signature on a completion certificate in October, but the proposal sent Republican legislators and the National Rifle Association into an outrage. They complained the law doesn't call for any hour requirement for training or require an instructor's signature to verify completion.
Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, who leads the Justice Department, countered the law doesn't define training and the agency had to lay out parameters or anything would qualify. Van Hollen lost that fight, though. Republicans who controlled the Legislature's rules committee did away with the training time and instructor signature requirements.
The permanent rules set out more extensive training standards than temporary plan, but no Republicans raised any problems with it on Monday. DOJ officials argued again in a memo describing the permanent rules' scope that the agency must define training and proof of completion to satisfy the training requirement. The agency consulted with lawmakers on the permanent rules and no one has objected, DOJ spokeswoman Dana Brueck said in an email.
"We're conscious of what we did before, and we're conscious as to how the Legislature responded," Brueck wrote. "We're obviously trying to adopt rules that are consistent with the statute and that also are going to satisfy policymakers."
John Hogan, chief-of-staff for Senate Republican Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau, said the four-hour training mandate didn't make any sense because people might be able to complete training in less time. The new training standards shouldn't stop anyone from getting a permit, he said.
"The emergency rule was to get the permits going," Hogan said. "I don't see (the permanent rules) as holding anybody up. A lot of this stuff is pretty elementary anyway. We just want to make sure people are still able to get their permits. I think will they will still be able to get them seamlessly."
Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford, one of the leading critics of the four-hour training and instructor signature requirements, didn't immediately return telephone messages left at his Capitol office and his district listing Monday. A message left with the NRA wasn't immediately returned.
The agency held a public hearing on the permanent rules in Superior on Monday and has scheduled two more hearings for July 24 in Green Bay and July 25 in Pewaukee. The emergency rules expire in mid-August, but DOJ has asked the rules committee to extend them for two months while it finishes work on the permanent package.
Republicans and Democrats now share control of the rules committee after Democrats won a one-seat majority in the Senate in last month's recall elections. Bridget Esser, a spokeswoman for new Senate Majority Leader Mark Miller, D-Monona, said committee Democrats will see if the public raises any concerns about the new rules before making any moves.