Waukesha gun rights group files suit against DOJ

Published on: 6/25/2013

Gun-rights organization Wisconsin Carry Inc. (WCI) filed a lawsuit June 13 in Waukesha County Circuit Court challenging a Department of Justice rule limiting concealed carry class size to 50 students per instructor.

The organization argues in a petition that the rule, part of a set of permanent rules that went into effect June 1, exceeds the scope of what legislators originally intended in writing Act 35. Furthermore, Wisconsin Carry argues the rule violates the group's constitutional right to equal protection under the law, because it does not apply to hunter's safety classes or military training.

As a nonprofit, the organization argues that a 50-to-1 limit on class size, 'would unnecessarily and wastefully consume WCI's resources,' according to the petition.

'The bottom line is that the Attorney General doesn't have the authority to create any sort of regulation like that,'Lawyer John Monroe argues.

As the group argues in its petition, Wisconsin statutes for concealed carry clearly state: 'The department may not impose conditions, limitations or requirements that are not expressly provided for in this section on the issuance, scope, effect, or content of a license.'

'What is magical about 50-to-1?' he asked. 'If you have 51 student, what's important about that 51st student?'

DOJ spokeswoman Dana Brueck said in a statement: 'the rules we promulgated went through a process of legislative review and we are comfortable that we have acted within our statutory authority.'

The passage of Act 35 in November 2011 made Wisconsin the 49th state in the union to allow licensed individuals to carry a concealed weapon in public. To obtain a license, individuals must pass a background check and attend a gun safety class recognized by the state.

According to its website, WCI was founded in 2009 as 'a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and reclamation of of the basic human rights critical to a free society.'

The group was founded by New Berlin resident Nik Clark, according to the Department of Financial Institutions. Clark did not respond to an email requesting comment.

Monroe, a Georgia-based gun rights lawyer, said he first got involved with the organization when it sued the City of Madison in federal court. In two separate suits filed in 2010 and 2011, WCI claimed that the city's policy for responding to individuals carrying a weapon violated members constitutional rights, creating a 'hostile' environment for legally armed individuals.

The 2010 suit was dismissed at the request of both parties in 2012 after the passage of concealed carry. WCI won the 2011 suit, with the City of Madison agreeing to pay $10,000.

Since 2011, The organization, which is qualified to certify firearms instructors, has offered free gun safety classes throughout the state, training more than 6,000 people by its estimate.

'The largest (class) they ever had was 1,000 students,' Monroe said. 'They had multiple teachers, I think 10, but that is still 100-to-1.'

On June 17, Monroe filed a request that the rule not be applied until a final determination is made in the suit.