Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) plans to sign two new laws on Wednesday that expand the rights of gun owners by removing a 48-hour waiting period for those looking to purchase a firearm and allowing off-duty or retired police officers to carry concealed weapons at public schools. This action will come one week after a suspected gunman shot and killed nine people in an African American church in South Carolina, yet again prompting a national discussion about gun laws in the U.S.
Walker plans to sign the two pieces of legislation — Senate bills 35 and 70 — at a ceremony at the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday afternoon, according to a Tuesday evening press release from the governor's office. Laurel Patrick, a spokeswoman for the governor, said this bill-signing was scheduled and announced about two weeks ago, several days before the shooting occurred in South Carolina.
Walker, who is expected to announce in mid-July that he will run for president, has overseen the expansion of gun-owner rights in Wisconsin. He often brags in early-primary states like Iowa that his state now allows most of its residents to carry concealed firearms. Wisconsin has also enacted a so-called "castle doctrine" that provides some protections to homeowners who shoot intruders to their property.
Walker has an A-plus rating from the National Rifle Association. In endorsing Walker during his reelection campaign last year, NRA Political Victory Fund Chairman Chris W. Cox said in a statement: "Scott Walker is a battle-tested leader in the fight to preserve Second Amendment rights in Wisconsin. He's never wavered, never backed down and never stood still in the fight to protect our freedoms."
Months ago, Walker said he supported getting rid of Wisconsin's 48-hour waiting period for those looking to purchase a handgun. Walker has said that a waiting period is not needed, especially now that firearm dealers can perform instant background checks on their buyers.
“That’s one of those where with new technology, we want to make sure the bad guys don’t get firearms, and the good guys do,” Walker told the NRA’s news network during an interview in late February, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
Some Democrats in Wisconsin have argued that this waiting period is also a cooling-off period for those contemplating suicide or who might shoot another person in a fit of passion, especially in cases of domestic abuse. The legislation was passed by the Republican-dominated legislature earlier this month.
At the same time, lawmakers passed legislation that allows off-duty and retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed weapons on public school grounds. Current law only allows on-duty officers to do so.