MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Two Republican legislators urged a state Senate committee Wednesday to approve their bill allowing people to carry concealed weapons without permits or training, saying the measure would restore people's basic right to arm themselves.
Sen. Dave Craig and Rep. Mary Felzkowski kicked off a public hearing before the Senate judiciary committee by telling members that permit and training requirements restrict Wisconsin residents' constitutional right to bear arms. They noted that people already can legally carry guns openly in Wisconsin without any permits, training or regulations.
"Why should our citizens enjoy any less rights when you already have a standard to carry openly without a permit?" Craig said.
Democrats on the committee pushed back. Sen. Lena Taylor of Milwaukee said she voted for legislation to allow concealed carry in Wisconsin in 2011. But she said some restrictions on guns are appropriate and the U.S. Constitution doesn't afford unlimited rights.
"Limits are necessary. Training is one of those, for me, lines in the sand," Taylor said.
She also questioned whether the bill would allow the mentally ill to carry concealed weapons.
Felzkowski responded that the bill doesn't change who can legally own a gun.
"We've restored the rights of law-abiding citizens," Felzkowski said.
"I don't need the sermon," Taylor shot back.
Right now anyone who carries concealed weapons must obtain a permit and get training. The bill would do away with those requirements.
The measure would create a new permit for carrying concealed weapons on school grounds unless the school has prohibited the practice. That permit would require a background check to satisfy U.S. law governing carrying in school zones, but applicants wouldn't need training.
The bill also would preserve the current permit system with training for people who need a permit to carry in other states.
According to the National Rifle Association, 12 other states already allow concealed carry without a permit.
Five groups have registered in support of the Wisconsin bill, including the National Rifle Association and Wisconsin FORCE, the NRA's state association. Nineteen groups have registered against the bill, including the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators, the city of Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Council of Churches.
Dozens of people packed the hearing Wednesday waiting for their turn to speak, including members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a group that formed following shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, and the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort.