GPDO Commonlaw Spouse
Judge rules application of concealed-carry law unconstitutional
By Bruce Vielmetti of the Journal Sentinel
Feb. 13, 2011 |(37) Comments
In the ongoing evolution of Wisconsin gun law, a Milwaukee County judge has ruled the state's ban on concealed weapons unconstitutional as applied to a man who had an unloaded, encased gun under his car seat three days after he had been robbed at gunpoint in the same area of the city.
But unless Watts' order gets appealed, it would not likely become a green light for all drivers to keep guns in the front seat area, even if the weapons are unloaded and encased.
Watts' decision relies heavily on a 2003 state Supreme Court opinion that found the concealed-carry law was not unconstitutional as applied to a Black River Falls bar owner who had two loaded guns in his car and argued he needed them because he often deposited the nights' receipts early in the morning.
Watts found that Pinnow, in contrast, had just been robbed, was searching for his stolen car in a high-crime area, and had tried to comply with another state law about the transportation of firearms by keeping his gun unloaded, and in a case.
"He was exercising his right to bear arms in a reasonable and prudent manner," Watts wrote.
"Requiring Pinnow to put the encased unloaded firearm out of reach would effectively deny him his right to bear arms guaranteed" by the Wisconsin Constitution.
Pinnow's attorney, Christopher R. Smith of Greenfield, said the concealed-carry and transportation of firearms statutes, taken together, are vague. Since the mid-1990s, Smith said, almost any transportation of a gun anywhere but in a trunk has been presumed treated as concealed-carry when police want to bring that charge. But the law that requires guns be unloaded and in a case doesn't specify that they must also be in trunk.
"A person trying to follow the law really can't understand how to do it," Smith said.