For $10,000, Madison settled a lawsuit brought by the so-called Culver's Five, who were ticketed with disorderly conduct in September 2010 for openly carrying firearms.
Has the case changed the way Madison police will deal with people carrying guns in public? Madison City Attorney Michael May says the new state law that permits carrying a concealed weapon better defines when a person commits disorderly conduct with a weapon. May says the state law now makes clear that simply carrying a weapon, as the Culver's Five were doing, doesn't constitute "disorderly conduct."
"One of the reasons it made sense to settle that case is if a situation occurred in the future, it'd be under a new set of rules," May says. "There wasn't going to be any sort of precedent set."
The Madison Police Department has redefined its policy (PDF) regarding police interactions with people carrying weapons. "During a consensual encounter, officers may ask for identification and may ask if the subject is armed or carrying a concealed weapon. The subject is under no obligation to answer questions, provide identification or even remain with the officer. If the subject is lawfully armed (an open-carry situation, for example) the officer may ask to separate the weapon from the subject, but the subject is generally under no obligation to comply."
The new policy adds, "Open carry is less likely to create reasonable suspicion justifying a stop."
Downtown Ald. Mike Verveer says that many of his constituents are concerned about the new law.
"It's an issue that has come up time and time again," he says. "Many condo association board members are interested in prohibiting concealed handguns in their common areas. Most of them have decided to take a wait-and-see attitude."
By contrast, Auric Gold, a member of Wisconsin Carry, says he doesn't expect many problems between police and gun carriers in Madison.
"I expect that once the novelty has worn off, concealed carry and open carry will become the non-issue in Wisconsin it has become in other states," he says. "There may be a rough bump here and there as everyone makes adjustments, but Madison and the rest of Wisconsin will get through it."