The New London Police Department (NLPD) has been offering firearms safety training for area citizens interested in learning more about the concealed carry permit process and the responsibilities that go with it.
Captain Jay Zempel, who has 34 years in law enforcement and 28 years with the NLPD, served as the instructor for a firearm safety course held Saturday, Jan. 7, in the Washington Center Community Room.
Zempel has also been a firearms instructor at FVTC for 26 years. He has trained thousands of officers and overseen about 3 million rounds fired by his students.
"The concealed carry curriculum has changed three times in the last six weeks," Zempel stated. "What we're going to present today is the only curriculum designed by the Department of Justice (DOJ). If you pass this class and apply for your permit, you will be held to the same standard as police officers. Unfortunately, concealed carry training is not required; you can obtain a concealed carry permit as long as you have passed a hunter safety course-even if that was 30 years ago."
The instruction provided by the DOJ is designed to be a safety course, not a training course. Students learn how to identify a loaded handgun and how to safely unload it, but are not taught how to load or fire a handgun. It was emphasized that the course is not a substitute for practice and training in handgun operation.
A 55-page instruction guide is provided to any student taking the firearms safety course. The document is filled with information on the legal implications and responsibilities of carrying a concealed weapon and outlines the obtaining, maintaining and renewing a concealed carry permit. The 4-hour course covers everything from basic firearm safety to concealed carry restrictions.
The course begins with a review of the four fundamental rules of firearm safety, noting that most firearm accidents are caused by carelessness or ignorance. Proper maintenance, storage and inspection of firearms were also explored. Students were informed of State Statute 948.55, which states that leaving or storing a loaded firearm within the reach or easy access of a child can be a crime.
Students in the course are taught how to safely unload a semi-automatic pistol and a revolver. Other types of handguns are also available for students to handle. All guns have been built or modified so that no ammunition can be fired from them.
The class also identifies ways to conceal a weapon, holster considerations, examples of concealment methods, and how to maintain control of a weapon. The curriculum stresses that those carrying concealed weapons should avoid the need to use their weapon whenever possible.
A significant amount of time is spent outlining the legal implications of carrying a concealed weapon, including permit information. The Wisconsin concealed carry license allows the permit holder to carry a handgun, electric weapon, knife (except switchblades) or billy club. It does not permit carry of a machine gun, short-barreled rifle or short-barreled shotgun.
When carrying a concealed weapon, the carrier must have their concealed carry license and a valid photo identification on their person. However, carriers are not required to have their concealed carry license or photo identification in their home, place of business, or on land you lease or legally occupy.
Prohibited locations for concealed carry were also discussed, including the following locations:
• Any portion of a building that is a police station, sheriff's office, state patrol station, or the office of a DOJ special agent;
• Any portion of a building that is a prison, jail, house of correction, or secured correctional facility;
• The Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center, the Wisconsin Resource Center, or any secured unit or secured portion of a mental health institution, including a facility designated as the Maximum Security facility at the Mendota Mental Health Insititute;
• Any portion of a building that is a county, state, or federal courthouse;
• Any portion of a building that is a municipal courtroom if court is in session; and
• A place beyond a security checkpoint in an airport.
It is a felony to carry a firearm in a school or on the grounds of a school unless certain exemptions apply. It is against the law to carry a firearm within 1,000 feet of school grounds unless one of the school property exemptions applies, or you are on private property that is not part of school grounds, or you have a concealed carry license. It was also noted that it is a crime to carry a firearm while under the influence of an intoxicant.
Employers may prohibit employees from carrying a concealed weapon on the job. That prohibition does not apply to the employee's own motor vehicle, even in the employer's property or parking lot. Businesses and property owners may generally prohibit people from carrying concealed weapons in their buildings and property. These prohibitions do not typically extend to parking areas, and there are limiting qualifications for apartment buildings, etc.
Wisconsin Statute 939.48(1) states that deadly force can't be used unless you believe that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to yourself, or in specific circumstances, to someone else.
The first element of the statute is deadly force. "Deadly force" is used any time someone shoots at another person. "Reasonable belief" concepts state that you must "reasonably believe"-objectively-that death or great bodily injury is imminent.
Imminent threat means "about to happen". In order for the danger to be imminent, the subjects threat must meet all three of these criteria:
• Intent (an indication that the subject intends to cause great bodily harm or death);
• Weapon (the person has a conventional or unconventional weapon capable of inflicting death or great bodily harm); and
• Delivery system (the person has the ability to use the weapon to harm you).
Those carrying a concealed weapon may only use deadly force if no other reasonable option is available.
Castle Doctrine and defense of property are also discussed in the class. Under certain conditions use of deadly force may be presumed lawful when someone forcibly enters your home, business or vehicle while you are present.
Any time a handgun is used for defense-whether fired or not-the carrier should immediately report the incident to law enforcement. Immediately follow the directives of uniformed officers; never turn towards an officer with a gun in your hand; and expect to be handcuffed until the situation is sorted out.
To obtain a concealed carry license, applicants must meet certain criteria, including:
• Must be 21 years of age or older;
• Must not be prohibited from possessing a firearm under state or federal law;
• Must not have been ordered as a condition of bail or release in a criminal case from possessing a dangerous weapon;
• Must be a Wisconsin resident; and
• Must provide proof of the firearms training required for a license.
Applications can be obtained from the Wisconsin Department of Justice. Permit fee is $50. Instructions for maintaining and renewing the license are also detailed by the DOJ.
Zempel said he has some concerns about concealed carry, and said he hopes citizens will take the time to educate themselves and be responsible for their weapons.
"I am concerned about the fact that we have many car break ins (almost all from unlocked vehicles) here in New London on a yearly basis," said Zempel. "Weapons will start turning up missing along with the lap tops, expensive cameras, radar detectors and everything else we take theft reports on from vehicles. I am concerned that people will get their permit, wear their weapon until they get to one of the forbidden areas (school building, business with "No Concealed Weapons Allowed" signs, etc.,) and then forget that they hide their weapon somewhere in their vehicle which will then be left unlocked in their driveway or on the street.
"I am also concerned with 'road rage' incidents that will now involve one or both parties, being armed," continued Zempel. "I am hoping that even though Wisconsin has a minimal training requirement for CCW permits that responsible citizens will still seek out qualified training classes before accepting this huge new responsibility."
The NLPD will be conducting another safety class on Saturday, Feb. 11 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Washington Center. The cost is $75 for a non-resident and $50 for a resident. The class will be limited to 30 people and those wishing to attend must sign up at the police department by Wednesday, Feb. 8.
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