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In his 2010 bid for re-election to the Wisconsin state Senate, Jim Sullivan, D-Wauwatosa, is using a slogan that doesn’t even mention his own name.
"Representative Leah Vukmir," he says in a series of direct-mail pieces to voters, "she’s just too extreme."
At least five Sullivan mailers label Vukmir too extreme, on everything from health care for senior citizens to state funding for public safety to tracking sex offenders. A recent one focuses on guns, declaring:
"Vukmir supports allowing people to carry concealed weapons into day care centers, churches, health care clinics and playgrounds."
When paired with an image of a handgun and bullets, and the suggestion there would be no limitations, that’s a pretty strong statement.
Would anyone have been able to carry a gun into all of those places?
As evidence, Sullivan’s campaign points to a series of votes from Vukmir, a Wauwatosa Republican, in the state Assembly.
The Vukmir votes were in support of Senate Bill 403, a measure introduced in 2005 that would have allowed individuals to apply for a license to carry concealed weapons. Applicants would have had to complete a firearms safety course or similar training.
(At the time, only Wisconsin, Illinois and Nebraska did not have laws allowing concealed carry; today, only Wisconsin and Illinois don’t permit it.)
The bill, after being passed by both houses of the Legislature, was vetoed by Gov. Jim Doyle. The Senate voted to override the veto, but an override vote in the Assembly failed. Vukmir voted for the bill and to override Doyle’s veto.
Let’s look at each of the places Sullivan cites and what the bill said about them:
Churches and health care clinics: The owner or authorized representative of a church or clinic could have given permission to a person who has a concealed carry license to bring a concealed weapon inside.
Day care centers: Concealed carry would have been allowed only for the owner of a day care facility and, for day cares operated out of a home, the residents of the home.
Playgrounds: Concealed carry would have been allowed at parks and playgrounds.
That means of the four places cited by Sullivan, Vukmir supported allowing a limited number of people into three of the them. In some cases, such as a church or health care center, the pastor or operator would have been able to bar concealed weapons from the building. Only with playgrounds would Vukmir have allowed a wider group -- those who completed training and had received a permit.
So let’s take stock.
In a campaign flier, Sullivan says Vukmir, "supports allowing people to carry concealed weapons" into day cares, churches and other places. As stated, Sullivan suggests Vukmir wants to allow most anyone to do so. In reality, the bill in question would have been limited to those who obtained permits and -- in three of the four public places described -- applied to a very limited number of people. That is an important detail left out.
We rate Sullivan’s statement Half True.
National Rifle Association, Right to Carry Laws
Sullivan for Senate campaign literature on concealed carry
Wisconsin Assembly, amendment on parks and playgrounds, Dec. 13, 2005
Wisconsin Assembly, vote to table amendment on parks and playgrounds, Dec. 13, 2005
Wisconsin Assembly, amendment on child care centers, Dec. 13, 2005
Wisconsin Assembly, vote to table amendment on child care centers, Dec. 13, 2005
Wisconsin 2005 Senate Bill 403 (the version voted on), Dec. 5, 2005
Wisconsin Assembly, vote on 2005 Senate Bill 403, Dec. 14, 2005
Wisconsin Assembly, vote to override veto of Senate Bill 403, Jan. 31, 2006
Wisconsin Legislative Council, Amendment Memo, 2005 Senate Bill 403
Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, Concealed Weapon Laws in the States, April 2006
Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, Firearm Laws in Wisconsin, December 2008
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