Guns in the City:

by Peggy Schulz

The Wisconsin Way Is Not 

Neighbor Armed Against Neighbor  

Jeri Bonavia, like a lot of Wisconsinites, is suffering from “issue fatigue.” There are

so many vitally important issues roiling around in Madison right now, Bonavia says she hesitates before opening her e-mail each day, wondering what shoe is going to drop next.



As Executive Director of the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort Educational Fund (WAVE), the issue that’s now foremost on Bonavia’s agenda is the same one that’s held that position for years – gun violence.


The variety of legislation being bandied about in Madison this year has her urging Wisconsin citizens, especially in

neighborhoods like Riverwest, to adopt her same priorities and share those with their legislators.


Because, as Bonavia points out, while all of the issues are important and affect the quality of our lives, there is only one that

is truly life and death – that’s concealed carry. “It challenges us, our way of life, the way we live amongst each other,” Bonavia says. “One of my favorite things about Wisconsin, when you walk down the street, it’s almost like people have the

attitude, ‘There, that stranger there is a friend in waiting. We’re probably going to be friends if we just talk’.”

If any version of a concealed carry law passes, Bonavia believes that positive Wisconsin trait is going to end. “Now

we’re going to be armed against each other, we’re ready to find enemies out there, instead of being ready to find



To put things in some perspective, Bonavia sums it up:

 “If a bill like the ones 
being proposed now gets passed, 

it will be 
easier to carry a gun in public, legally, than

it will be to vote [assuming the voter ID bill

also is enacted into law]. It will be easier

to carry a gun in public legally than it is to

drive. And it will even be easier to carry a

gun in public than it is to check out a book

from a library.”


Bonavia is being practical when she

urges residents to contact their elected

representatives now, even though the

concealed carry legislation hasn’t been

determined yet and there are multiple bills

floating out there.


“Even if you feel your legislator already is

supportive of your views,” she adds, “there are

so many different things going on, legislators

are being torn in fifty different directions.

They won’t realize this is a top priority unless

they hear from their constituents.”


Bonavia believes it’s especially important

for city residents to speak out because the

National Rifle Association (NRA) has alleged

a somewhat peculiar motivation in pushing

to allow concealed carry without a permit

– so-called “constitutional carry.” The NRA

claims people living in higher crime areas,

especially urban neighborhoods, want to

protect themselves by carrying a concealed

weapon. The NRA would have us think,

apparently, that there are great numbers of

urban folks who want to leave their homes

“packing,” but who can’t afford the cost of

the training classes that a gun permit would



Bonavia counters with this: “Typically, the

people who are saying this is an important

tool for people who live in urban settings are

people who don’t live in urban settings.”

It’s really important that all concerned

citizens make their feelings known, Bonavia

says, because instead of our legislators

listening to their constituents, they’re

listening to this very powerful special

interest group, the NRA.


“And the interest of that group is not truly

public safety, so we end up with really bad

public policy,” Bonavia says. “What we’re

seeing with concealed weapons bills, there’s

no real pretending that they’re [the NRA]

trying to do this in a way that would ensure

public safety.”


Bonavia points out the NRA frequently talks

about how 48 other states allow citizens to

carry concealed weapons, but what they’re

not saying is how very radical and extreme

the bills are that are being circulated in

Wisconsin right now, how they differ from

most other states.


Legislators introduced these most extreme

versions of gun laws because Republicans

have control over both houses of the

legislature and the governor’s seat, Bonavia



“They feel like they don’t even need to try

and compromise and get some common

sense elements out there. They’re promoting

the bill exactly the way the NRA wants it. In

most states, the NRA has to at least pretend

they’re doing something in response to the

will of the people.


“Unfortunately, the legislators haven’t

stepped in and said, ‘Whoa, wait a minute, I

still have some accountability to the people of

this state, I’m still charged with looking out

for the interests of the people of Wisconsin,’”

Bonavia adds.


If you have an opinion about guns in the city,

concealed carry or unlicensed guns on the

streets, contact your legislators.


State Representative Elizabeth Coggs, 10th Assembly

District Room 409 North • State Capitol

P.O. Box 8952• Madison, WI 53708

Telephone: 608-266-0960



State Representative Leon Young, 16th Assembly District

Room 123 West •

State Capitol

P.O. Box 8953 • Madison, WI 53708

Telephone: 608-266-3786 or 888-534-0016



State Senator Lena Taylor, 4th Senate District

Room 20 South • State Capitol

P.O. Box 7882 8 Madison, WI 53707-7882

Telephone: 608-266-5810



State Senator Spencer Coggs, 6th Senate District Room

109 South • State Capitol

P.O. Box 7882 • Madison, WI 53707-7882

Telephone: 608-266-2500 or 877-474-2000E-mail: Sen.