MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s concealed carry law isn’t even a month old, but thousands of your friends and neighbors already have permission to pack heat and they’re buying up the hardware to do it.

Wisconsin became the 49th state to allow residents to carry concealed weapons this month. Questions about liability still linger, but gun sales have increased across the state and the state Justice Department has been deluged with so many permit requests it’s already scrambling to keep up.

“Long time coming,” said Matt Slavik, 58, of Brookfield. He hand-filed applications for himself and his wife at the Justice Department’s Capitol office on the morning of Nov. 1, the first day the new law was in effect. He said he got permit No. 20 in the mail two days later; his wife got No. 86 a day after him. “It’s been wonderful, just to put the sidearm on as I start the day. I just keep it underneath my shirt and nobody knows. It’s very comfortable.”

The National Rifle Association had pushed concealed carry legislation in Wisconsin for most of the last decade but kept running into former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle’s veto. Republicans took control of the Legislature and the governor’s office last year, though, and made concealed carry one of their top priorities. Gov. Scott Walker finally signed a bill this summer.

Under the law, state residents 21 or older who pass a background check and can prove they have taken firearms training can obtain a permit to carry concealed. Private property and business owners can choose whether to allow concealed weapons.

In the four weeks since the law took effect, gun sales have jumped. The Justice Department’s handgun hotline, a number gun sellers can call to initiate background checks on would-be gun buyers, had received 7,355 calls between Nov. 1 and Monday; the line has averaged about 6,550 calls per month throughout the year. The record for monthly calls is 7,859.

Roger Wendling, owner of Monsoor’s Sport Shop in La Crosse, estimates he’s seen a 25 percent to 30 percent increase in handgun sales this month. Some of the more popular models have been .38-caliber Sig Sauers and Smith & Wesson .38-caliber revolvers, both small, snub-nosed weapons that are easy to hide.

About 70 percent of the concealed carry clientele have been women, he said. They’ve leaned toward revolvers with laser sights and handbags with special compartments for hidden weapons, he said.

Jim Clark, manager of Central Wisconsin Firearms in Wausau, estimated his handgun sales have increased at least 20 percent over the last month, with customers going with small models such .38-calibers and 9-millimeters.

“Most of them, it just tends to be they want that added protection,” he said.

The state Justice Department, meanwhile, is wading through tens of thousands of permit requests. As of Tuesday, the agency had received 44,443 applications, approved 13,085 and issued 12,708 permits.

The agency had rejected about 3,000 requests, said Brian O’Keefe, administrator of DOJ’s Law Enforcement Services Division. The reasons have varied, from not being a Wisconsin applicant to missing basic application information like date of birth or failing to enclose the $50 application fee.

More than 400 applicants tried to use an out-of-state concealed carry permit as proof of training but failed to include a form confirming their permit was valid, O’Keefe said. About 540 applicants didn’t include sufficient training documentation, such as not including the name of their instructor, he added.

Under the law, the Justice Department has 45 days to approve applications received before the end of November. After that, the agency has only 21 days. The law authorized $236,700 for 11 new hires, including 10 six-month employees whose stints will end in March, to handle applications. But O’Keefe said they’ve gotten so many requests they’ve had to pull other agency employees in to help. He said on any given day 30 to 35 people might be working on applications.

Agency administrators say they need another $1.5 million to fill an additional 14.5 positions to handle applications. DOA passed the request on to the Legislature’s finance committee on Wednesday. The money will go through unless a committee member raises concerns by Dec. 15.

“Without (the additional positions) … it is highly likely that the concealed carry program will be unable to keep up with present demand and be in noncompliance with (the law),” DOA budget analyst Peter Kirby wrote in a memo to agency secretary Mike Huebsch.

Percolating beneath it all are questions about business owners’ liability.

The law grants immunity to property owners who allow concealed weapons in their establishments, but does not address the issue for property owners who bar them. That omission has given rise to a legal theory that owners who ban concealed weapons could be liable for injuries someone suffers in a shoot-out because the owners prevented the wounded from defending themselves.

Democratic state Sens. Jon Erpenbach of Middleton and Tim Cullen of Janesville asked Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen for an opinon clarifying the liability issues earlier this month, calling the liability clause “counterintuitive and illogical.” Van Hollen, a Republican, refused to comply. He said he’s not legally bound to supply legislators with legal opinions.

Gwen Bryan, owner of Louisianne’s Restaurant in Middleton, said she’s frustrated with the law and with Van Hollen. She said she wants to ban weapons in her restaurant, but wants the guarantee of legal immunity that comes with allowing them.

“Van Hollen isn’t living up to his duties as attorney general,” she said. “Everybody’s very confused about this law. Only a lawyer can figure out the way it reads, with the jargon … It’s unfair we’re put in this situation. Walker says we’re open for business. This is not looking out for business.”

Justice Department spokesman Dana Brueck said the agency can’t give legal advice to private citizens. If the law truly is counterintuitive and illogical, as Erpenbach and Cullen say, it’s up to the Legislature to address it, she added.

To Slavik, at least, the issue is clear.

He won’t go to establishments that don’t allow concealed carry. He said it’s too inconvenient to disarm and leave his gun in the car before he goes inside. What’s more, criminals will know which businesses don’t allow weapons, making them targets for bad guys who want to rack up high body counts.

“I’ve lived my 58 years obeying the laws, paying my taxes, loving my family, going to church,” he said. “Now that I have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, I’m treated like a criminal. I’m not wanted in their businesses anymore. To me, it’s an insult.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (40)
  1. Michelle says:

    There have been no adverse affects in any state that ‘allows’ this fundamental right.

  2. redneck loser says:

    duyuk, duyuk, aint gunz grate? duyuk duyku

  3. Jason says:

    Better crime deterrent than more police. Thats a fact Jack.

    1. Tom says:

      @ Jason

      And if they get drunk and do something stupid then who do you blame?

      1. choice says:

        See… this only goes to prove what a moron you really are. How many times have you heard about the legally able to carry people getting drunk and making

        Now let us review that dumb a holes who arent able to carry legally… out getting drunk and “” GETTING STUPID””?

        1. Tom says:


          Talk about saying something stupid! Yes people who do not conceal and carry do stupid things to, but if you trying to say that people who conceal and carry wouldn’t do the same stupid things just because of that you are delusional.

      2. ez says:

        You mean like the two Minneapolis cops who got drunk and started firing their guns into the air? They both got fired from what I remember.

  4. Jason says:

    Is that what has happend here in MN?

  5. Sue J says:

    Criminals 0 us 120,000

    1. ??? says:

      I guess this means something. At least it did to Sue J

  6. Sue J says:

    kiss your mom with that mouth, do ya?

  7. Sue J says:

    please put your aluminum hat on!

  8. choice says:

    Well first off G Dog, you obviously need to brush up on the “” Permit to carry”” laws. This is not a permit to conceal. It is the persons choice to conceal while carrying..

    And in most cases malls, workplaces and establishments ban weapons. Most of the people applying are law abiding and are not out playing Dirty Harry.

  9. choice says:

    Don’t you have a protest to join in Ronald Raygun in MPLS? Go over there with the other lib t ards!

  10. Say What says:

    Crime rate should drop now, assuming the criminals can read.

  11. Tom says:

    @ G Dog

    I agree with your statement! I really don’t understand the reason why a private citizen feels the need to carry a gun on them whether they are going to the mall, grocery store, an eatery, etc.. Do they just want to do it to show people they are packing heat? That doesn’t impress me at all!

    1. choice says:

      @ Tom

      Ah shoot! You aren’t impressed? I was really hoping you would be. Thats the reason I carry a gun.

      Oh wait.. no I carry a gun because it is my right!

      1. Tom says:

        @ choice

        No I am not impressed! Consrvatives are the biggest group of paranoid people there is. And how many times in your life have you felt threatened by someone outside your home that you feel the need to conceal and carry? Or is it your conservative paranoid mind telling you that eveybody is out to get you?

    2. jackactionhero says:

      Whether you understand it or not is not the deciding factor on whether they should or shouldn’t be allowed to carry a firearm. It is your choice to not carry one, as it is others’ choice TO carry one.

      And concealed carry implies they are concealing the weapon, Tom. Minor detail to consider there.

  12. Tom says:

    @ ronald raygun

    There is small minority of conservatives that understand somethings, but big majority of them are idiots. That comes from living in their bubble for all their lives.

    1. choice says:

      How do you explain the stupidity of a liberal? Thats right… you can’t

  13. Mr D says:

    Lot’s of stupid people commenting here. CC has been legal here in Mn for over 5 years with only a handful of problems during that period. their are approximately 88 thousand people who have permits in MN. It has not been the wild wild west here. Permit holders are all around you. Sitting behind you in the movie theater, in line at the store or eating at the table next to you.

    You should feel comforted in knowing that if a bad guy shows up with weapon to harm you someone might be able to take him down before he takes you out. Police are minutes away when you only have seconds.

    1. Susan says:

      You would be shocked at the number of women who now carry. They have an advantage in that they can carry their firearm in their purse.

    2. Matt says:

      or they are just considering WI people are different from MN people LOL

    3. Tom says:

      @ Mr. D

      And how many times have you seen people packing heat at those places.

      Then basically if you see a person walk in packing heat you are going to have your finger on the trigger just in case? And if someone see’s you walking in packing heat you wouldn’t mind them shooting at you even though you didn’t have any intention of firing your gun.

      And yes there are alot of people who have permits but how many of them do you think feel the need to carry a gun where ever they go?

  14. Billy Bob says:

    Going liberal hunting…..

  15. insignificant says:

    g dog,ya goof,communities need to police themselves,eh?

  16. Rasputin says:

    G Dog,

    Statistically, permit holders are more law abiding than the police.

    You probably didn’t know that.

  17. Jus Sayin says:

    I hope there is a sub-division in the law that says if your dumb @55 is caught drunk or under the influence and you ARE CARRYING your weapon, you lose that permit immediately. It’s one thing to have a permit and use it responsibly its another to be an ldiot!

    If this clause is in place, i am assuming that 50% of the permit-holders will get revoked in about 1 year or 2 time…. ROFL!

    1. jackactionhero says:

      You hope?

      Why not just go read about it yourself at

      An excerpt:

      “Permit holders could carry guns in taverns and other places that sell alcohol, provided they were not drinking.”

  18. Matt says:

    Maybe in WI, but here in MN our people are more civil and our permit holders don’t go around shooting everyone they see.

  19. Matt says:

    both sides have problems. most conservatives are too conservative. most liberals are too liberal. There are areas we need to be more liberal and areas where we need to be more conservative. problem is most want all or nothing. One reason why State of MN shutdown the conservatives were being too conservative and once the liberals agreed to their terms. they decided they didn’t want to win so they put some social issues on the table which caused the state of mn to shutdown.

  20. dphilips says:

    gun nuts& hillbillies take your rights& shove them!

    1. Zachary says:

      I shoved them in an envelope for a CC permit.

  21. dphilips says:

    gun nuts& hillbillies take your rights & shove them1

  22. StraycatStrut says:

    Good to see WI up to speed on the CC law. About time for this State as the Libs …. the controlling, “fetus killing party” in the name of Choice all are punked out. 2nd Amendment is for all and there for their Choice. Hurray now that women have an equilizer for their own protection.

  23. Pistol Pete says:

    Mr D doesn’t live in North Minneapolis were there are shooting almost daily.
    Guns help nature get rid of more of the stupid.

  24. Pistol Pete says:

    jackactionhero, Is that your gun, or are you just happy to see me.

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