Case examines whether motorists require concealed carry permit

Wisconsin lawmakers made history back in 2011 with the passage of Act 35, otherwise known as the concealed carry law. Perhaps not surprisingly, this landmark bill has encountered its fair share of criticism over the years and, in recent developments, is now the focus of a fascinating case of first impression in Kenosha County.

Specifically, the issue being examined in this case is whether it's permissible for motorists lacking a concealed carry permit to drive with a loaded handgun within their reach.

According to the complaint, a 52-year-old commercial trucker from Merrill entered a weigh station in Pleasant Prairie this past June with a loaded gun in plain view on the floor of his cab.

After viewing the gun via an overhead surveillance camera, weigh station inspectors cited the trucker for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, a misdemeanor, and confiscated his firearm.

Just prior to the start of his jury trial in Kenosha County last Monday, his attorney raised two very interesting defenses:

  • While the state is arguing that the trucker's actions were prohibited under Act 35, there is a different statute on weapons transport that expressly declares "no person may place, possess or transport a firearm, bow, or crossbow in or on a vehicle, unless one of the following applies: 1. The firearm is unloaded or is a handgun."
  • State law provides that people are legally able to possess a firearm for self-defense purposes in their homes and/or places of business without a concealed carry permit, and that for truck drivers, their rigs frequently serve as both makeshift domiciles and offices.

For his part, the prosecutor argued that this broad interpretation would render Act 35 meaningless and that these issues of law should have been raised in pretrial motions.

While the judge conceded that it would have been easier to have addressed the defense's arguments earlier, he also argued that they were not required to present them at that time. To that end, the case was adjourned for several months so that both parties could draft briefs examining these potentially conflicting state laws.

As for the trucker, he remained convinced of his innocence.

"I want my gun back, and I don't want a record, and I'm not paying a fine," he said. "I didn't do anything wrong."      

Stay tuned for updates in this fascinating case …

If you are facing weapons charges or under investigation for some other violent crime, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional who can protect your rights and your future as soon as possible.

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