Wisconsin firearm rules allowing the transport of uncased long guns and loaded and uncased handguns in vehicles went into effect last fall.
It remains illegal to discharge a firearm from a vehicle with exceptions for certain disabled hunters that are complying with the conditions of a disabled hunting permit.
11/17/2012 7:30:00 AM Firearm rule changes haven't led to safety issues so far Administrative warden says it's too soon to tell if changes will lead to increased violations
By Craig Turk
of The Lakeland Times
As of last fall, firearms no longer need to be cased while in a vehicle, but long guns must be unloaded. Handguns can be transported uncased and loaded.
So far there's no evidence that the change has resulted in additional safety issues, according to Tom Van Haren, an administrative warden with the DNR bureau of law enforcement.
"We didn't really see any safety things - as far as accidents or injuries - related to firearms in vehicles. At least in that first year," Van Haren said.
He added that one year is a small sample. He also said it's too soon to tell whether the new rule will result in more hunting and shooting violations.
"With just one year of the law in effect, we don't really know the result of the change in the number of violations we'll have from people," Van Haren said.
Last year, there were some additional violations in the wake of the rule change.
"People shooting from vehicles or from roadways did go up some, according to the deer season report that was presented to the Natural Resources Board last December," Van Haren said.
He reiterated that it will take more time to see the overall effect of the new rules.
"That's just one year's numbers and that could have a lot to do with if the weather was ... bad - that typically puts more people in their vehicles. Sometimes you get people driving around because of the bad weather ... they get tempted to shoot at something they see while they're driving down the road.
"It's going to take a couple of years to see if there's actually a trend of hunting from vehicles now that you can drive around with uncased firearms and loaded and uncased handguns in vehicles."
Van Haren said one gun-related violation actually saw a decrease in numbers over the period since the new rules went into effect. Loaded guns in vehicles.
"There was a reduction in the number of loaded firearms found in vehicles, which, anybody can speculate, 'Well, why was that?' you know. Of course, if your gun is out of the case, it's easier to unload it if you see somebody coming up to your vehicle," Van Haren said.
"Over time, we'll be able to see if there's a trend of these instances."
It is still illegal to shoot a firearm or bow and arrow from a vehicle, with exceptions for disabled hunters complying with conditions of a disabled hunting permit.
Handguns cannot be concealed unless the owner is authorized to carry a concealed weapon.
Craig Turk may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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