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Madison’s Willy Street Businesses Should All Reject Concealed Carry, Would Make Political Statement, Reap Revenue

August 17, 2011

We have witnessed a lot of energy across Wisconsin in the past weeks as citizens have pushed back against the extreme policies enacted by Governor Walker and his Republican majorities in the State Legislature.  There have been successes and some failures along the way. 

Regardless of the outcome, however, one thing is clear.

Wisconsin citizens are determined not to allow our way of life to be altered by those who have short-sighted policy goals all motivated by purely conservative political purposes.    While that feeling runs deep around the state, perhaps no other city than Madison feels it as strongly.  Within Madison itself there is no deeper sense of outrage over the Republican agenda than what is felt in the most liberal voting wards of the isthmus on the near east side.

That is why I think all businesses on Williamson Street, more affectionately termed  ‘Willy Street’, should seriously consider the idea to push back against the Walker concealed-carry agenda.  By so doing it will make a bold political statement that will resonate with citizens.  In addition,  after many months of street construction that created disruptions for merchants,  a concerted effort by Willy Street merchants to reach out for enlightened shoppers would allow for revenue to again flow on this most eclectic street.

Let me explain.

Earlier this year, in the face of strong public opposition the legislature passed the concealed carry law.  It was a complete sell-out to the NRA.  The law which will go into effect this fall will allow a number of weapons ranging from guns to tasers to be carried on a person.  

Many citizens have deep concerns about this reckless gun policy, and will be looking for stores and businesses to shop that will not allow for armed people to enter.  Most people want to shop in gun-free stores, eat in gun-free restaurants, buy coffee in gun-free shops, and get gardening supplies in gun-free hardware stores.

Willy Street businesses can make a positive statement to their customers by placing the required notice in a window that concealed guns are not allowed.  For all Willy Street businesses to unite behind this idea would send a clear message about what acting locally in the face of statewide Republican bullying looks like.

One might even say this is what democracy looks like.

  1. Lori permalink
    August 21, 2011 1:40 PM

    Saw a guy grocery shopping with a handgun belted to his hip recently in west central Wisconsin. Couldn’t help but wonder whether he had kevlar armor underneath his shirt and why he was not wearing a helmet. Without the kevlar and helmet, I’d argue he’s looking to play offense rather than defense. He looked like an idiot with an axe to grind.

  2. Ninja permalink
    August 18, 2011 12:15 PM

    That’s not a statement it’s the status quo. All businessess will post concealed weapon prohibitions. They don’t need that kind of liability. Then in a couple of months those notices will be plastered over and nobody will give concealed weapons a second thought.

    You’ve never lived in a concealed carry state, have you?

  3. Steve Adams permalink
    August 18, 2011 11:21 AM

    Jude, allow me to address some of your comments and concerns,

    Wow, where do I start. “Pretty much” no crime on Willy street is comforting unless you are not included in the pretty much. That, and most people have to travel from somewhere else to get there.

    Good reason for having the weapon on you – you have control of it. If you leave it in your car, you not only are not able to protect yourself, but you have left control of the weapon to the locks on you car, and the hope that nobody will break into the car and help themselves. Most responsible folks with a CHP – thats Concealed Handgun Permit – have a lock box, firmly attached to their vehicle in which to store their weapon if for some reason they can’t take it someplace.

    Nobody wants to “Gun down” a bad guy. Gunning down a bad guy may sound good if you say it fast, but it is not a good thing to say or think. It is very traumatizing at best and not something easily forgotten if you are required by job or circumstance to do it.

    Nanny state. Think about that. Seems any more that people expect someone else (Nanny state – look it up) to be responsible for them. I don’t know what the population of Madison is, but lets say it’s 100,000 and they have a police force of 1,000. Any way you figure it, if they were all on duty at one time – and they are not, and every citizen had a right to have one protecting them at all times, 99,000 of you would be left totally defenseless. Those numbers are not totally accurate, but as the Gecko says, “You get my point”.

    I was a law enforcement officer for almost 30 years, some of those years in Wisconsin, and I did one heck of a lot more report writing at a crime scene than I did “Protecting”. Other than by my presence, and big as I am I didn’t “Protect” that large an area around me…and although it was sometimes the case, and many other times felt like that were the case, I didn’t usually work 24 hours a day.

    Some police departments and organizations came out against concealed carry with a vengence, throwing out all the catch words, “Wild west shootouts in the streets” being one of the favorites.. and I had to laugh at that. I don’t remember ever seeing a statistic on that happening, and you can bet the anti’s would be making hay with that if it was indeed happening.

    Alaska has a regulation that if you have a CHP that if you are contacted by a law enforcement officer, you have to immediately tell the officer that you are carrying a handgun with a CHP, and the location of the gun. That make us “Good guys”. How many criminals “Bad guys” do you think ever announced to an approaching police officer that they were carrying a firearm ???

    As for gun control, the only control I want to see if hitting the bullseye on every target you shoot at – hopefully in a safe shooting range… And that if you are ever in a situation that you have to defend yourself or your family, that you are successful in that effort.

    I appreciate the fact that you are a gun owner, and are going to get a permit. If Wisconsin were to model their permit class after Alaska’s, you would attend a full day class, where you would learn the ins and outs of concealed carry, including a 2 hour lecture on state statues regarding your responsibilities regarding firarms and the discharge of those firearms. You would learn firearms safety, how to properly carry concealed, and very importantly – your responsibility to never allow the firearm to be seen. Even with my long law enforcement career, I learned many things in the class I took. You would also be exposed to many different handguns, sizes, types, calibers, etc. An at the end of the day, you would be fingerprinted, photographed, fill out paperwork and pay a fee in excess of $ 100.00, and finish out the day on the shooting range demonstrating your ability to safely handle the firearm of your choice, and hit the target that you are shooting at .

    You will note that I have used the word responsible and responsibility a great deal – for a good reason. A CHP is an awesome responsibility… and you need to be aware of that. It’s not something to be taken lightly, and something most “Yahoos” won’t do. The required background check will weed out most of them who would try to get a permit.

    I hope what I have written is a comfort to folks with concerns. And I applaud those of you who become “Good guys”,

  4. Jude permalink
    August 18, 2011 10:18 AM

    This is so stupid. The pro- and anti- arguments here are ridiculous. First of all, the whole point of a concealed weapon is that no one can see it. How are you gonna enforce a ban? Frisk people coming into your shop/bar/restaurant? Good luck with that, bucko. As for the pro-CCW argument–there’s pretty much no crime in the Willy Street area. You don’t need a handgun on your person at all times. If you want to enjoy a fantasy where the hero guns down the bad guy, rent a movie. Life doesn’t work that way.

    And since when is expecting the police to do their job “rely[ing] on the nanny-state?” What the hell is that?

    Jim, if you are a concealed carry permit holder, it can’t be in Wisconsin. And why would businesses losing money be a good thiing? Wouldn’t that be bad for, you know, jobs and the economy?

    To totally screw with everyone’s minds, you should know that I’m a liberal, a union member, a gun owner, and I’m damn sure going to get one of these permits come October or November. I don’t trust all of the yahoos that are going to get them, so I suppose I should protect myself.

    I’m for better and smarter gun control, but the rest of the states (save Illinois) have CCW laws on the books–please note that they have neither descended into chaos nor become utopias. The conditions in the states depend on bigger things like economic development, infrastructure, investment in education, and so on.

  5. Jim Rector permalink
    August 18, 2011 8:20 AM

    Uh, criminals don’t abide by “gun free zones”. From a criminal’s viewpoint a gun free zone is a victim rich zone. That’s a fact. As a CHL holder in my state I refuse to enter establishments that exercise their right to prohibit my right of self-defense. I’ll patronize the freedom loving establishment down the street. I don’t carry because I feel crime is so bad in my state or neighborhood that I must. I carry as insurance against violence that can break out ANYWHERE and ANYTIME. The Cops are only useful after-the-fact.

    All that said, I support the right of a business to choose to prohibit CHL holder carrying in their establishments. Just know there are a bunch of us who will choose to never spend $$ at your business.

  6. DBK permalink
    August 17, 2011 5:27 PM


    Go to the Mall of America and you see the stupid signs saying such and such bans guns on the premises. Sales seem to be just fine. So, take a deep breath and let business owners make their own choice–it is after all their property — not yours.

  7. August 17, 2011 4:48 PM


    Sorry to hear that you live in such a crime-infested community that you feel a need to carry a gun for protection. I can tell you that since moving to Madison in 1987 I have never needed a gun, nor wanted one. I can also tell you that Willy Street area will not suffer from doing what the bill allows for, that is making a personal business free of guns if they so desire. After all, should not private business be able to conduct their affairs without government control? Is that not the conservative chant? So if a business opts for no guns is it not their right? Or are you part of the nanny state that wants more controls placed on private business?

    Be mindful that there is great opposition to this law, and the provison that I write of to allow a businees to make their customers safe was placed in the law for a reason.

  8. Jim Kimmons permalink
    August 17, 2011 4:35 PM

    Ah, it does one good to see the articles popping up about the boycotts of businesses that discriminate against law-abiding citizens who wish to protect themselves and not rely on the nanny-state.

    Willy Street may see a very chilling effect on sales, and that’s a good thing.

    A veteran of Vietnam, a lawful taxpayer, and a concealed carry permit holder.

  9. August 17, 2011 1:15 PM

    There’s still a shop on Willy St. that sells & repairs guns. (The ONLY gunshop in Madison, I think) Should that owner also ban firearms from coming into his business? 😀

    Side note: I was once giving directions to an out-of-town pal who was down at the Capitol, and I was telling him to turn on Willy St off of John Nolen. He kept driving past “Williamson” looking for “Willy”.

  10. Steve Adams permalink
    August 17, 2011 12:56 PM

    Bullying ? The legislature was doing the will of the people – and not the NRA.

    You have to realize that Wisconsin was the next to the last state to recognize that it’s citizens are responsible enough to escape from the nanny-state mentality, and use firearms properly.

    You seem to forget that the criminal element are already carrying weapons. Once everyone has the ability arm themselves, most criminals will think twice before taking on a citizen that may be armed.

    As an aside, Alaska is more progressive than most states – you don’t need anyones permission or a permit to carry a firearm for your own or others protection. And what most uninformed people don’t know, is that when Alaska had a concealed handgun permit, all the good guys behaved themselves – and only bad guys got hurt. The wild west shoot ’em up scare tactics thrown out by the anti-faction when the concealed handgun permits were first issued in Alaska were just that – scare tactics.

    If people don’t want to be able to protect themselves and their families – that’s their choice. I just hope you don’t expect the police and others to protect you – ain’t gonna happen.

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