Gun Rights on the Line in High Court Race

The legal battle over the right to keep and bear arms for Wisconsinites could hang in the balance of the state Supreme Court election on Tuesday, April 5.

Justice David Prosser, who currently sits on the bench and who will be on the ballot Tuesday, wrote the majority opinion in the most important Wisconsin gun rights case in more than a century.

His opponent, leftist JoAnne Kloppenberg, is cut from the same mold as U.S. Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan—meaning, she won’t say where she stands on gun rights, but you can bet it will not be on the side of constitutional liberty.

In 2003, Prosser was on the bench to hear Wisconsin v. Hamdan. The case involved a store owner, Munir Hamdan, who possessed a concealed firearm inside his place of business in a crime-ridden Milwaukee neighborhood in 1999. His conviction of violating the state’s draconian concealed carry gun ban was appealed to the state Supreme Court.

The court found that the ban on concealed carry violated a constitutional amendment overwhelmingly ratified by the voters in 1998: “The people have the right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful purpose.”

In writing for the majority, Judge Prosser wrote, “If a constitutional right to keep and bear arms is to mean anything, it must, as a general matter, permit a person to possess, carry and sometimes conceal arms to maintain the security of his private residence or privately operated business.”

Thanks to the Hamdan decision, Wisconsin residents could, for the first time since 1872, carry a concealed weapon in their home or business. While it may come as a shock to people in other states, before Hamdan a woman who concealed a firearm in her bathrobe while checking out a noise in the night would be in violation of the law.

Writing in dissent in Hamdan was Chief Justice Shirley Abramson, a justice for whom Kloppenburg once clerked.

While there’s room to quibble with parts of Prosser’s decision, in the end he urges the legislature to rewrite the laws on concealed carry.

Tuesday’s election takes on added significance because the Court is so evenly divided. It ruled 4-3 in favor of gun rights in Hamdan. A Kloppenburg victory would be sure to tip the balance in the other direction in future gun cases.

Gun Owners of America urges all Wisconsin gun owners and sportsmen to cast their ballot for David Prosser for Supreme Court on Tuesday, April 5.

And please, forward this message to all of your pro-gun family members and friends.

Sincerely,
Tim Macy
Vice Chairman