Wisconsin GOP Proposes Lowering Concealed Carry Age to 18, Allowing Guns on School Grounds

Wisconsin Republican lawmakers passed a package of bills through the state's General Assembly Thursday that would expand the rights of gun owners with concealed carry permits, and lower the age necessary to obtain a concealed carry permit from 21 to 18.

The other bills would allow those with concealed carry permits to have guns in their car while on school grounds, allow firearms in churches and other places of worship that are also on the grounds of private schools and force the state to honor concealed carry permits from other states, according to the Associated Press.

Republicans approving the bills called them a valuable protection of Second Amendment rights, while Democrats in the Assembly said they would only bring more guns into the state and make it more dangerous.

"Our Second Amendment rights, those are just critically important to everybody across Wisconsin," Representative Shae Sortwell, chief sponsor for the bill that would lower the concealed carry age, said at a press conference before the legislative session Thursday, the AP reported. "(We want to) make sure that every adult American, whether they are visiting Wisconsin, whether they are living in Wisconsin, has the same rights under the law."

Wisconsin Republicans Gun Control Concealed Carry
Wisconsin Republicans passed bills in the state's General Assembly Thursday that would lower the required age for concealed carry permits to 18 and expand other gun rights. Above, a customer shops for a pistol at Freddie Bear Sports on Dec. 17, 2012, in Tinley Park, Illinois. Scott Olson/Getty Images

The bills have received support from the National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups, while they have been opposed by officials in Milwaukee, the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin and other anti-violence and gun violence groups, according to Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR).

Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort (WAVE) executive director Jeri Bonavia told WPR that her group is opposed to the measure lowering the age for concealed carry permits because even if the age is lowered in the state, federal law still prevents those under 21 from buying a firearm from a federally licensed dealer.

"Which means that this age group that they're talking about would likely need to be purchasing their gun from the gray market, from private sellers," Bonavia said. "Which means that there would be no background check conducted on those purchases."

Republicans said the bill allowing concealed carry permit holders to bring guns in their car to school grounds is designed to allow those gun owners to be able to pick up their children from school without having to worry about being charged with a crime if they are found to have guns in the car on school grounds.

However, Assembly Democrats said Thursday that combined with the age-lowering bill, the package of legislation would effectively allow high school seniors to obtain a concealed carry permit and legally bring a gun onto school grounds in their car, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The four bills were approved by the Assembly Thursday, sending them to the state Senate. However, the AP reported that considering Governor Tony Evers' past efforts supporting gun control, he would likely veto the bills if they were to reach his desk.