Gun owners are often their own worst enemies. At the national level, the scandals surrounding the National Rifle Association may do more to hurt the organization’s ability to defend the 2nd Amendment rights of gun owners than any particular election, court ruling or terrible mass shooting tragedy.

But it isn’t just the big incidents that ill-serve gun owners. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Rep. Shae Sortwell (R-Two Rivers) allegedly decided to show his gun to a Democratic legislative staffer, Savion Castro, to (allegedly again) demonstrate the supposed silliness of the sign banning guns outside the office Rep. Shelia Stubbs (D-Madison). Sortwell was visiting the office of Stubbs on an unrelated matter when the alleged incident supposedly occurred.

Stubbs, for whom Castro works, is demanding an apology from Sortwell. Sortwell told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he wouldn’t answer their questions. After disputing the Journal Sentinel’s account, Sortwell told WKOW he would not give his side of events because, he allegedly told the reporter, his constituents don’t care.

RightWisconsin has also reached out to Sortwell for his explanation, directly on Facebook and through his staff. We have not received a reply.

Concealed carry license holders can bring guns into the state Capitol. However, individual legislators can post a ban on carrying weapons into their offices, just like private businesses have the ability to post signs. As might be expected, Democratic legislators (who opposed allowing guns in the Capitol) have their offices marked off limits to guns.

Sortwell may be hoping the incident just goes away. Or he’s hoping his silence about the incident will prevent him from further trouble since it is a violation of state law to concealed carry your weapon into areas that are clearly posted banning them. Sortwell is fortunate that his conduct is not being investigated by the Capitol Police (so far) and instead the matter was referred to Assembly Chief Clerk Patrick Fuller. 

While we sympathize with Sortwell that some non-gun owners need to get over their inordinate fear of guns, violating state law by carrying the gun past a sign banning them into a Democratic legislator’s office and showing it to a legislative aide who was once an intern with One Wisconsin Now is not the way to do it.

In fact, it would be incredibly stupid, so stupid that we have to question the wisdom of the voters who put Sortwell in office. We would also have to question how Sortwell passed the course necessary for his concealed carry license, and whether he should be allowed to continue to possess the license. 

Sortwell may feel that his constituents don’t care about his alleged foolishness with a gun. Maybe he’s right, but they ought to care. Sortwell owes them, and everyone, a full explanation of his actions.

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