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Village, Businesses Debate Whether to Allow Concealed Weapons

The Menomonee Falls Police Department is ready, but village leaders hope still haven't determined whether they will be allowed in public buildings...and some businesses aren't sure, either.

Village, Businesses Debate Whether to Allow Concealed Weapons

It has been several months in the making, but Tuesday marked the day when Wisconsin residents could officially begin filling out their concealed carry applications.

Although the is prepped for the change, the village has yet to decide whether concealed weapons will be allowed in public buildings.

The legislation signed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker earlier this year allows the concealed carry of firearms, Tasers and other weapons with a permit. Answers to commonly-asked questions about the new law can be found online.

The new law represents a change both on the books and on the streets for the Falls police. However, officers have been working behind the scenes preparing for Tuesday, when the law was fully implemented.

“It’s a definite change in paradigm for the citizenry and law enforcement as a whole,” said Police Capt. Mark Waters. “There are situations that we will need to have a heightened sense of awareness knowing that a higher number of people will be armed, but hopefully the majority are law-abiding and licensed to carry.”

Waters said officers attended state-sponsored seminars held to prep law enforcement agencies throughout the Wisconsin on the law and the correct enforcement of it. Waters said each officer went through numerous scenarios to ensure everyone is on the same page.

“We want to make sure we have the right balance between enforcing the law correctly, and not infringing on people’s rights as legal gun carriers,” Waters said.

Will guns be allowed at library, Village Hall?

While the Police Department has a handle on the new law, village leaders are still trying to sort out whether to regulate concealed weapons in municipal buildings. The ordinance in October after the General Government Committee took it off the table for consideration.

Members of the committee were still unsure about costs associated with posting signage at entrances if an ordinance restricting concealed weapons was approved. They also wanted to be certain an ordinance is specific and clearly stated to the public. The committee will meet again Monday to discuss and vote on a revised ordinance.

“We don’t have a unanimous point of view at the committee level, and we’ll see how their review goes on Monday,” said Village Manager Mark Fitzgerald.

Although there isn’t an ordinance in place at the municipal level, most of is already a weapons-free building. Concealed weapons are prohibited in Village Hall when municipal court is in session and within the Police Department at all times.

However, without an ordinance in place, Waters said a licensed individual could carry a concealed weapon into any other part of Village Hall under the new law. Although Fitzgerald doesn’t see any immediate concerns regarding the lack of a village ordinance, he said it’s important to get one in place expediently.

“Frankly, in the short term, we don’t expect much of an issue. It will take a little bit before people’s permits are approved,” Fitzgerald said. “On that basis, there’s a bit of a lag. Realistically, we need to move forward with our ordinance as quickly as possible so it is clear to the population what the circumstances are.”

Businesses consider their options

Now that the law is in full effect, business owners throughout the state will need to make the tough decision whether to allow concealed weapons or post signage prohibiting them from their business.

According to the law, the state will grant immunity to any business that doesn’t prohibit weapons from its premises if someone is harmed. However, if a business has a sign prohibiting concealed weapons, it could open the business up to liability for negligence if someone is harmed.

“I think we’re going to play it by ear to start with, and if we have any problems from the start, we may consider putting up a sign,” said Jeff Sonnemann, a manager at . “We don’t have any plans to put signs up now, though.”

The law is a bit trickier for taverns, however. A person with a concealed carry permit can legally bring a weapon into a bar, as long as they aren’t drinking alcohol. Even before the concealed carry law passed, it was illegal to drink and carry a weapon.

Jarod Packard, a manager at Sal’s Pub and Grill said the business will likely put signage up prohibiting concealed weapons.

“We will probably put some sort of signage up because you don’t really want weapons in a bar,” Packard said. “We haven’t discussed this too much yet, but we’ll probably post something.”

A concealed carry ban is already in place at , which is part of the Froedtert Health system. Signs are already posted in front of parking and building entrances around the facility.

“It's the goal of Froedtert Health to provide a safe, welcoming place for our patients, visitors and staff.  We have never allowed weapons in our buildings and that is still our policy,” said spokeswoman Kathleen Sieja.

According to a BizTimes report, both Pick n’ Save locations in Menomonee Falls will allow concealed weapons.

Another place where signs will not be posted is at . Lead Pastor Carly Kuntz said they don’t want to open themselves to liability if they post a sign. She added that a sign wouldn’t prevent someone with malicious intent from bringing a weapon in anyway.

“We will not be posting signs outside the church. Our belief is that those who want to carry concealed weapons for nasty reasons wouldn’t pay attention to the signs anyway,” Kuntz said. “We have to trust that people who are coming to church are coming to church to worship God just everyone else is coming to church for.”

Concealed carry classes nearby

Wisconsin will become the 49th state to grant permits to residents that will allow them to conceal weapons, whether it’s a firearm or stun gun, after undergoing training. Felons and those under 21 year of age won’t be eligible for a license.

Already, by 9 a.m. Tuesday more than 83,000 residents had downloaded an application from the Wisconsin Department of Justice website, according to JSOnline report. Those who apply also will need to find a class.

In Menomonee Falls, John Semrow will hold three concealed carry classes in the next two months at the American Legion Post, N88W16652 Main St. Semrow will hold classes at 9 a.m. Nov. 12, Nov. 26 and at 6 p.m. Dec. 10. The class is six hours long and costs $150. Those interested can register online.

Waukesha County Technical College is also offering a series of $85 six-hour Saturday morning classes, and a Tuesday and Thursday evening class that is split into two 3-hour sections. A complete listing of the course dates is posted online.

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