MADISON The Wisconsin state Assembly approved a measure on Tuesday allowing qualified state residents to carry concealed weapons in public.
Assembly lawmakers passed the proposal 68-27. Their colleagues in the state Senate approved the measure last week and Republican Governor Scott Walker has indicated he will quickly sign the bill into law.
It would make Wisconsin the 49th state to remove bans on concealed weapons.
Backers of concealed carry said it makes the streets safer by allowing law-abiding citizens to protect themselves.
Opponents said they worry that such laws will increase the likelihood that minor disputes escalate into deadly confrontations. They also insist there is no evidence that the passage of so-called "concealed carry" laws result in lower rates of violent crime, as proponents claim.
Once Wisconsin makes the measure law, Illinois will be the only state that does not have a concealed carry law on the books.
In April, lawmakers in the Illinois state House attempted to pass a measure that would have allowed gun owners to carry them in public -- but they fell six votes short of the number needed to pass.
Under the Wisconsin law, gun owners who want to carry concealed weapons will have to get special training and permits.
(Reporting by Jeff Mayers; Writing by James B. Kelleher; Editing by Greg McCune)