If you’re a resident of the state of Wisconsin or will be traveling to or through there with your firearm under a reciprocity agreement, you need to be aware of a recent controversial Wisconsin State Supreme Court ruling.
Gun rights advocates used the 2014 arrest of Brian Grandberry to draw attention to potentially conflicting wording between two laws in the state – the Concealed Carry Statute and the Safe Transport Statute.
Grandberry was stopped while driving in Milwaukee. He was asked at the time if he had a weapon and indicated that in the glove compartment there was a loaded .45 High Point. According to the Safe Transport Statute, a handgun may be transported loaded and uncased. Other weapons must be unloaded, or in the case of a bow, unstrung, and transported in a case.
He also informed the officers that he had a concealed carry permit. However, the officers were unable to find a record of Grandberry’s permit. He then admitted that he had taken the appropriate course but hadn’t applied for the permit yet. He was convicted of a misdemeanor for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.
Gun advocates, however, encouraged Grandberry to appeal the ruling. Because the Safe Transport Statute allows for having a loaded, uncased gun a vehicle without specifying the need for a concealed carry permit they argued that Grandberry was within his rights to have the gun in his glove compartment.
Grandberry argued that because he was following the stipulations in the Safe Transport Statute and wasn’t actually “carrying” the weapon, he was in compliance with the law.
Unfortunately for him and for other gun advocates, the appeals courts and the Supreme Court of Wisconsin agreed with the lower court’s ruling, but not without controversy.
The majority ruled that the two statutes were not in conflicted and that Grandberry could have complied with the law by putting his gun out of reach or by completing the process to obtain his CCW permit. However, there was both a concurring opinion and a dissenting opinion filed with the ruling.
In the dissenting opinion, Justice Rebecca Bradley stated that the application, in this case, was unconstitutionally ambiguous. As a result, she felt that Granberry’s conviction should have been overturned.
In the concurring opinion, Justice Daniel Kelly said the court came to the correct ruling, but that the two statutes created a gray area that was unnecessary.
The outcome means one thing for gun owners, though. If you transport your weapon in Wisconsin and you don’t have a CCW permit that is recognized by the state, you’re better off complying with the letter of the law and not the spirit.