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Committee approves county weapons ban

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Kevin Hoffman
October 4, 2011
— The Rock County Board this month will consider banning guns, knives and other weapons from county-owned buildings under a resolution supported Monday by the public safety and justice committee.

Wisconsin's concealed carry law takes effect Nov. 1, and in the last several months counties and communities adopted ordinances restricting weapons in certain public places. Without specific exemptions in place, the state law will allow licensed gun owners to carry them freely at most businesses and public buildings.


The resolution considered Monday would outlaw handguns, electronic weapons, billy clubs and knives in any building owned or controlled by Rock County.


The resolution does include exceptions for one building at the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport and another at Gibbs Lake County Park, both of which are "utilized as private residences."


Committee members unanimously supported the resolution but briefly discussed the gray area of the law, where people might need to carry weapons.


One example was cattle shows at the Rock County Fairgrounds. Farmers typically carry knives to cut hay bales, and the committee didn't want police officers citing them for violating the ordinance.


The Rock County Sheriff's Office indicated deputies would consider the circumstances when someone is found with a weapon. That also would include auctions where people might buy guns.


"We have to depend upon the sheriff's department to exercise discretion and common sense, and they do," said attorney Jerome Long, who drafted the resolution. "This is just going to be a matter of whether the sheriff or his deputy on the scene finds something that is grossly outside the warrant for a pocket knife."


Walworth County will consider a similar ban during its board of supervisors meeting Oct. 11. Communities also have adopted their own restrictions on public buildings, including Whitewater where most city-owned facilities will display signs alerted residents to the ban.


The state law requires signs be posted at every entrance to each facility where weapons are prohibited. The resolution orders the county to hang signs no later than Nov. 1.


Weapons also are banned in county-owned vehicles, with the exception of those used for law enforcement.


UW-Rock County will not be included in the county's resolution. Rock County owns its buildings, but the UW System is preparing its own policy prohibiting concealed carry on its campuses.



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