October 27, 2007
WISCONSIN: JUDGE: CONCEAL-CARRY LAW ‘UNCONSTITUTIONAL’ IN SHOOTING
MILWAUKEE — Charges were dropped Monday morning against a Milwaukee pizza delivery man accused of shooting two would-be robbers, and in a 10-page statement, the judge said Wisconsin’s law forbidding the carriage of a concealed weapon, as it pertains to this case, was unconstitutional.Andres Vegas was delivering pizza near 22nd and Locust streets Jan. 4 when a 16-year-old pulled out a gun and demanded money, police said. Vegas was accused of pulling out his own gun and shooting the teen three times.The incident in January was the second time in less than six months that Vegas shot someone who tried to rob him on the job. In July of 2006, a 14-year-old boy pulled a gun on Vegas, who retaliated by shooting the boy three times. Then-District Attorney E. Michael McCann said that since Vegas had been robbed in the past, state law said he had a reasonable belief that he needed to protect himself and did not file charges.
Following the latter case, Vegas was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and faced nine months in jail if convicted. That charge was dismissed Monday.”He’s happy the judge reached his decision and he appreciates being able to walk out of here after eight months of fighting this prosecution,” Vegas’ lawyer, Craig Mastantuono, said.Mastantuono said two laws collide in this case. One constitutional amendment allows people to bear arms for certain purposes, such as self-defense, but another makes it illegal to carry a concealed and dangerous weapon.”So you have this gap between what the amendment allows for in terms of protecting Wisconsin citizens and what the law bans. Right now this gap is the problem,” Mastantuono said.Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Daniel Noonan cited two previous cases, State v. Hamdan and State v. Fisher, in his decision.Noonan said that Vegas “works in a dangerous, high crime area in the city” and “is engaged in a cash business activity that makes him a target of armed robberies.” He also acknowledged that Vegas had been the victim of multiple violent crimes, that the gun was purchased legally for the “purpose of security and protection,” and made a “strong inference that Vegas’ concealed weapon has saved his life” in the past.According to the National Rifle Association, 40 states have right-to-carry laws. The remaining 10 have very limited issue of permits and are not considered right-to-carry states. In Texas, having a concealed weapon means applying for a permit. In Vermont, no permit is necessary.District Attorney John Chisholm’s office said they will not appeal Noonan’s decision and lawyers for Vegas said that he is no longer delivering pizzas.