In fewer than six months since its new law went into effect, Wisconsin has issued 100,000 permits for law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons for personal protection.
When the statute officially became law on Nov. 1, 2011, the state Department of Justice—the agency that oversees the permit system—estimated it would issue 125,000 permits over the course of the first full year.
In announcing the 100,000 milestone on April 20 from the DOJ office where the permits are authorized and printed, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said he firmly believes in the right of Wisconsin residents to defend themselves and that the law empowers law-abiding citizens.
The AG also applauded the efforts of the DOJ staff and law enforcement officials for making the distribution of permits as smooth and efficient a process as possible considering the incredible demands placed on employees over the past 6 months.
Van Hollen has the distinction of holding the first concealed-carry permit issued by the Badger State.
"There were doomsday people out there, before concealed carry was passed, who were predicting, of course, the doom and gloom that when we put more guns on the street, that we're going to have more problems," Van Hollen said. "Nothing could have been further from the truth."
In addition to authorizing concealed-carry permits for qualified individuals, the DOJ also initiates NICS background checks on persons purchasing handguns from federally licensed gun dealers in Wisconsin. In 2011, the agency reportedly received a record 88,895 calls to its "Handgun Hotline." This past February marked the month with the highest-ever number of calls at 15,842.
Wisconsin is the 49th state to approve the carrying of concealed weapons for law-abiding citizens. Illinois remains the only state without such a provision for its residents.