WI Issue: Police Can’t Say How Many Gun Permit Holders Commit Crimes


Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn believes criminals can and will obtain permits to carry hidden guns. Supporters of “concealed carry” say he’s overreacting, and the vast majority of permit holders are law-abiding citizens. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says that in between are permit holders like Darrail Smith, who has no criminal convictions but who police say has a habit of turning up at shooting and homicide scenes, serving as a human holster. It took months of police work before prosecutors had enough evidence to issue an unusual gun-related charge against him.

How many more such cases are out there? Police say it’s impossible to know from their records because it is illegal to reveal how many criminal incidents involve permit holders. Indeed, Wisconsin’s concealed carry law explicitly prohibits law enforcement agencies from sorting their records by whether anyone involved had a permit. Says Nik Clark, president of gun rights advocacy group Wisconsin Carry Inc., “There’s no need to expose and collect aggregate data on our members.” If a permit holder is convicted of a felony, unlawful use of a controlled substance or domestic abuse-related misdemeanor conviction, the permit is revoked. Of the 860 licenses revoked last year, 291 — one third — were revoked for one of those three reasons. There are 242,488 permit holders in the state.

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