Madison Police Chief Noble Wray hopes that if city residents are eventually permitted to carry concealed guns into places like bars, as a new law allows, that they won't drink while armed. "No matter how you look at it, alcohol and firearms don't mix," he says.
Wray also says he'll encourage venue owners to prohibit firearms in their establishments, as well as voluntary compliance among citizens. While it isn't illegal to drink while armed, mishandling of firearms while drinking can lead to being slapped with a reckless use of a weapon charge.
Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney shares these worries. "I'm very concerned that there will be only a minimal amount of training required," he says. "After taking a hunter's safety course -- 16 hours with a rifle -- people can be on the street with a loaded handgun. I'm afraid for the citizen carrying that weapon, the public and law enforcement officers.'
Wray says it's difficult to discern from other states with concealed-carry laws what, if any, upticks in gun crimes Madison residents can expect, because concealed-carry laws typically prohibit such data from being collected. Wray notes that officers, when making routine traffic stops, won't even have access to a permit-holder database to determine whether a driver has a gun in the car.
"Having that bit of additional info would be helpful," he says. Regarding any policy responses to the law, Wray says he''s waiting to review the bill's final version.
"As law enforcement, we'll have to determine how to incorporate these changes in order to keep the public safe," he says.