By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Jun 12, 2014 at 5:02 AM Photography:

Joe Wilcox is dead today because he fell for the cockamamie belief that carrying a concealed weapon was a good thing.

A lot of people are calling Joe Wilcox a hero. If he’s really a hero, he’s a dead hero. He had a gun that he thought was going to keep him and others safe. And it didn’t. Because he had that gun, Joe Wilcox -- a 31-year-old man who wanted to be a Las Vegas cop -- is dead.

The gun nuts never tire of shouting that regular citizens carrying a concealed weapon is good for public safety and some kind of right handed down from on high. Tell that to those who loved Wilcox.

What happened was that a crazed man and woman went on a tear in Las Vegas. First they killed two cops in a pizza place. Then they went to a Walmart. They entered and the man fired a shot into the air and told everyone to leave. Panic ensued. But not for Wilcox.

He had a gun concealed on his body. He pulled his gun and walked toward the man with a gun. Before either of them could fire, the woman in the pair, who was hidden, stepped behind Wilcox and shot him to death.

There is no way that anyone can convince me that Joe Wilcox would not have challenged the gunman if he didn’t have a gun. Without the gun, Joe Wilcox would have run out with everybody else and he would be alive today.

Let me be very clear, I think that carrying a gun in public is nothing more than an invitation to trouble for everyone, including the person carrying the gun.

The right-wing gun nuts keep shouting that it’s not the gun that’s the problem but the people who use the guns. There is an element of truth to that, in that we need to do a better job of identifying and managing people who might commit crimes, be they political wackos or people with potentially violent mental health challenges.

While that’s a problem, the other problem is the gun. Most of these multiple victim shootings are committed by people who buy guns legally.

Those gun guys say that anybody can go out and buy an illegal gun on the street. Well, I know a little bit about the street, and I have no idea where I would go to buy an illegal handgun or any other kind of illegal gun.

It’s not just the illegal guns that worry me. It’s the legal guns. The guns in somebody’s home when a kid gets hold of it and accidentally shoots himself or a friend. The legal purchase that ends up in the killing a bunch of students or children or ... or anybody.

I’m under no delusions that we could outlaw guns entirely. But there are things we could do that would make the world safer.

Let’s repeal all those concealed carry laws. Let’s close down gun shows. Let’s limit the license for people to sell guns. Let’s outlaw online purchase of guns.

If you buy a gun for hunting or target shooting (the only two legitimate uses of guns) you can’t keep it at home. We are going to check your background. We will build and staff armories and shooting ranges. You have to keep your gun in the armory. If you want to use it, you have to come and check it out.

Does this sound drastic? Of course. But this epidemic of gun violence requires a drastic response. I’m not sure how it’s going to happen with the all-powerful National Rifle Association lobbying against any kind of control over guns.

But somebody has to stand up and say that enough is enough. I’m just wondering who that somebody is going to be.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.