Gun-rights advocates oppose Madison bus ban

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scott-walker

Gov. Scott Walker signed the conceal-carry law in July 2011.

Gun-rights advocates say they’re preparing a court challenge to  Metro Transit’s weapons ban on Madison, Wis., buses, claiming the policy violates the state’s concealed-carry law.

But city officials say they’re confident the policy banning “weapons of any kind” is legal and in the best interest of passengers.

Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Carry Inc. said it plans to file a lawsuit in the next few weeks, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. President Nik Clark said the policy infringes on a person’s right to carry, especially for those who rely on public transportation or live in a high-crime area.

“Madison has a gun law stricter than state law,” Clark said. “If we are successful in Madison, other transit systems in the state will follow suit and adjust their policies.”

Clark said his organization wanted to challenge the city’s policy for some time but had to wait until it heard from someone with a concealed-carry license who’d been prohibited from bringing a gun on a bus. That happened last month, he said.

The lawsuit is based on a state law that Gov. Scott Walker signed in July 2011. It allows people to apply for a license that lets them to carry a concealed gun and carry a gun openly in a school zone, and Clark said anyone who has a license should be able to carry a gun, concealed or in the open, on city buses as well.

Madison officials don’t think so, noting that the policy predated the concealed-carry law.

“We don’t want guns on buses just like we don’t let people bring gasoline on buses,” City Attorney Michael May said.

Metro instructs its drivers to calmly ask anyone trying to board to bus with a gun to comply with the policy, transit spokesman Mick Rusch said. If the person doesn’t comply, the driver is instructed to contact a supervisor, who can call police.

“It’s in the best interest of our passengers,” he said. “We have a lot of items we don’t allow on buses in the interest of safety.”

Clark wrote to Metro last month asking it to review the policy and threatening litigation. Metro Transit general manager Chuck Kamp wrote back saying officials did reconsider the policy but concluded there was nothing in the new law that compelled a change.

May said the city’s position is consistent with a state Department of Justice memo from this summer that says private and public entities may restrict transport of weapons. He said the language covers private cab and bus companies.