By Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager
The Wisconsin Department of Justice has received many questions about how the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004 (H.R. 218) is being implemented in Wisconsin.
The primary concern is related to firearms training and qualification standards for retired law enforcement officers carrying concealed weapons. The actions contemplated in H.R. 218 are not supported by current Wisconsin law. Gaps in current law and procedures across the state have generated many concerns from public safety personnel and agencies.
There are two significant questions that dominate any discussion of properly implementing the federal law. In Wisconsin, training requirements are driven by Wisconsin’s long-standing policy of home rule and local control. Firearms training requirements have always been managed by local interests administered by chiefs and sheriffs. There is no “state” mandate or standard for active law enforcement officers, nor any specific yearly requirement related to firearms.
Given the lack of a uniform statewide standard, the next question is where does authority to issue “certification” for civilians exist? The answer for any authority issue resides with the legislature. On November 17, 2004, I issued a memorandum to the Governor and the majority and minority leaders of the Wisconsin Legislature identifying several areas of state law – including authority for annual firearm certification of retired officers – in which legislative action may be needed for H.R. 218 to be effectively implemented across Wisconsin.
The future of concealed carry for law enforcement retirees will likely be determined by legislative initiatives, and you are encouraged to watch our web site for future updates and developments as they become available. Please visit www.wilenet.org and look for the H.R. 218 link on the home page to see a copy of the memo that was provided to the Governor and the Legislative leaders.