Some people who want concealed-weapon permits are apparently trying to satisfy the training requirement by taking hunter-education classes, even though the classes weren't intended to cover concealed-carry issues, state officials said.
The concealed-carry law takes effect Nov. 1. Under the measure, residents who can prove they've taken a training course can apply for a permit to carry a concealed handgun.
The state hasn't released specific requirements for firearm training, but the law says a hunter-education class established by the state Department of Natural Resources would qualify.
DNR spokesman Edward Culhane has doubts. He told the Green Bay Press-Gazette that hunter-education classes aren't an appropriate substitute for concealed-carry training.
"The courses are for people who want to learn hunter safety," he said. "They're not for self-defense."
Culhane also noted that hunting courses teach people how to use rifles and shotguns. The concealed-carry permit, however, applies only to handguns.
One reason the hunting classes might be an appealing substitute is cost. The DNR website says a hunter-education course costs $10, while a concealed-carry training class can cost between $100 and $150.
The classes generally focus on different content. The hunting classes also teach people about wilderness survival, while most firearm-training courses explain how the concealed-carry law works and the legalities of using a gun in self-defense.
Bill Yearman, a DNR recreational safety warden, said he's been hearing that hunting classes are filling quickly. He speculated that not all the registrants were hunters.
"My guess is the majority would be there for concealed carry," he said.
That's not always the case, according to one DNR hunter-education instructor. John Johnson said his class last week in Green Bay filled up about two weeks ahead of time, and most of the people seemed interested in hunting.
"Nobody has mentioned concealed carry yet," he said. "Everybody's just signing up for hunter safety."
Anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1973 who wants to hunt in Wisconsin must take a hunter-education course and buy a state hunting license.
If you've already taken a hunting course you don't need to take another course to qualify for a concealed-carry permit, Culhane said.