WAUSAU - The state's concealed carry gun law is in the spotlight again after a fight stemming from a road rage incident in Wausau ended when one person involved pulled a gun.
That 48-year-old Appleton man has a concealed carry permit.
As we've reported, police arrested 30-year-old Nicholas Flanagan and 26-year-old Jessica Ratliff.
Investigators say the Menominee, Michigan couple attacked Scott Van Patter after their vehicles collided.
Wausau police provided FOX 11 with dash cam video showing officers arriving on the scene of a fight at a Menards parking lot Tuesday.
Police say Van Patter was physically assaulted by Flanagan and Ratliff.
Van Patter eventually pulled out his .40 caliber handgun.
He explained why in an interview with FOX 11 Thursday.
"When I felt that I was in imminent danger, and I could not protect myself, that's when I reached behind and uncased my weapon," Van Patter said.
Flanagan told FOX 11 Thursday he fought with Van Patter, because he was afraid the Appleton man had a gun.
"And I could see him reaching underneath his seat which I obviously knew was for a weapon. So I get out I open up his door, I grabbed his belt and I'm trying to pull him out of his vehicle before he can reach his firearm," Flanagan said by phone.
"Pulling the firearm out and displaying it isn't something that should be done lightly," said Chief Deputy Bryan Hiltz with the Wausau Police Dept.
Hiltz said the state's concealed carry law is meant to help people defend themselves.
"I think this was the intent of the legislature, to allow people, law abiding citizens, to be able to carry a firearm to use in the unlikely event that they're going to need to protect themselves from attack," said Hiltz.
Hiltz said he believes Van Patter's actions may have prevented further violence.
"I think he helped ensure that he wasn't going to be attacked when he produced the weapon and pointed it in their direction," Hiltz said.
Van Patter said it wasn't an easy decision, and called the event traumatic.
"Emotionally and physically, I'm having a hard time with it. That's a huge amount of responsibility and restraint that goes into carrying a firearm," said Van Patter.
We did a FOX 11 Fact Check. Since the law went into effect last year, the state Department of Justice has received 157,439 concealed carry applications. The agency has printed 144,174 licenses. 39 applications are pending.
DOJ officials say they do not track how many concealed carry incidents, like Tuesday's, have occurred in the state. We checked with a number of area police and sheriff's departments, but none reported any similar situations.
Wausau police said the investigation is ongoing, but add it is unlikely Van Patter will face charges related to the parking lot incident.
FOX 11 contacted both Flanagan and Ratliff for comment on this story. Ratliff declined. Flanagan did not return our phone call. Both are to be in court later this month.
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