MADISON, WISCONSIN — Back in 2014, a man tried to board the bus but was denied entry because he was a legally registered concealed carrier with his handgun. Of course, the local government doesn’t have the right to supercede state law and the issue was brought to court. The Wisconsin Supreme Court just ruled in favor of the concealed carrier’s right to carry his handgun on mass transit.
Despite a legal ruling, the mayor of Madison believes he has the right to restrict basic American liberties.
“As the owner of these buses we believe we have the right to control behavior on them. We have the right to control if people play loud music, bring on dangerous animals and we see it be perfectly in our rights as property owners to be able to regulate firearms,” Mayor Paul Soglin said.
Except he doesn’t have that right. It won’t stop him from trying but with a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling in favor of the individual’s rights, it could prove extremely costly for the mayor to continue to infringe on the rights of his citizens.
The charge to break the mayor’s unlawful blockade of mass transit riders was lead by Wisconsin gun-rights advocacy group Wisconsin Carry.
Wisconsin Carry President Nik Clark says the ruling will have implications across the state.
“It is a right that people have and the most important thing is the right to carry doesn’t just exist for people that have their own transportation,” Clark explained. “The right to carry exists for people who rely on mass transit.“
And he does have a point. Outside of the debate of individual liberties, those who travel mass transit shouldn’t lose their rights at the bus door. Many of these individuals have to walk to the bus stop and between bus stops. This presents a liability for their own safety. If each person were forced to resign his right to carry just because he needs a bus ride, what is that saying about the local government’s support of those who rely on that mode of transportation?
There should be a basic rule in politics: if you live behind a gated community under police protection, you shouldn’t be allowed to tell those who can’t that they may not take steps to protect themselves.
I remember when I lived in Atlanta and took MARTA to get to work. It was convenient and practical because where I worked and where I lived were both close to the subway. If I met friends at a local bar in Little Five Points, I could count on taking mass transit.
But, let’s be honest, the areas outside mass transit can get very sketchy. And even if they’re not sketchy, violent people can still target those getting on and off the buses and trains. While the stations themselves are secure and the bus stops mostly reasonable, it’s always a thought in the minds of those who depend upon mass transit for daily transportation.
We’re not talking a huge adjustment for riders to get used to the idea that there will be concealed carriers on the same trains and buses as them. MARTA allows concealed carriers to ride mass transit and, in general, nobody even notices they’re there.
Maybe it’s time the mayor of Madison grows up a little. If he doesn’t, he can at least prepare his city’s annual budget for the litany of class action lawsuits sure to come.