Wisconsin GOP lawmakers propose bill addressing school safety

A sponsor of the bill says it came at the request of a school district
Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 9:52 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - On Monday Wisconsin Republicans proposed a bill that would allow each school board to voluntarily choose to create their own concealed carry policy to protect students.

State Representative Scott Allen and State Senator Cory Tomczyk are the lead sponsors of the bill. They want to take the decision out of the state’s hands and let the locally elected school board members vote on if they want to have this in their districts.

“Every minute matters when there is an active shooter on site and while I think it’s best for authorities, the police, and law enforcement officers to engage a suspect or an active shooter, that is the best-case scenario, it takes minutes for them to arrive at an active shooter site,” Allen said.

He mentioned the idea came about last summer at the request of the Germantown School Board who wrote “the ‘gun free school zone’ signs do nothing but notify a criminal that there will be few, if any, people in the building that can defend themselves.” They have requested “that Wisconsin Concealed Carry Weapon statutes, like 948.605, be amended to allow a license holder to possess a firearm on the school grounds and within school buildings if authorized by the local school district.”

“In the purest sense, guns don’t belong in schools but then why have there been bad people bringing guns to schools?” Allen said. “Right now, we’re allowing bad people who are intent on doing evil things to come into schools with guns, but we don’t want any good people in schools with guns. That doesn’t make sense to me and if somebody can explain that logic, I want them to explain that logic. I’m concerned about evil people doing evil things, with any kind of weapon in our schools, harming our kids, our children. I want to protect those children.”

On the other side of the aisle, Democrat State Representatives Lee Snodgrass and Kristina Shelton strongly oppose the bill. They say guns shouldn’t be brought into schools to prevent gun violence and are putting children’s lives at risk.

“If guns actually made us safer, we would see an improvement in safety, not a rise in violent shootings and in communities that are reeling from gun violence,” Shelton said.

“We know that all Wisconsinites want safe schools and communities, and they support sensible gun policies, which would do that putting guns in schools does not do that does not make our communities or school safer,” Snodgrass said.

According to Snodgrass, there have been 15 mass shootings in the first 10 days of April.

“We have bills out there that would reduce gun violence in our communities and Republicans are simply not taking them up,” Snodgrass said. “They’re not listening to what Wisconsinites want and because of that fact, our communities and our schools are not as safe as they could be.”

Governor Evers released a statement on Monday on social media stating if the bill would come across his desk, he would veto it. His full statement can be read below:

“Wisconsinites have been desperately demanding commonsense proposals that will reduce gun violence and keep our kids, our schools, and our communities safe. This bill isn’t among them. This bill shouldn’t make it to my desk—but if it does, I’ll veto it. Plain and simple. I already vetoed the Republicans’ bill to allow loaded guns on school grounds because increasing firearms on school grounds won’t make our schools or our kids safer. So, let me be clear: I’ll veto any bill that weakens Wisconsin’s gun-free school zone law. Period.”

“The governor has a responsibility to listen to the people of the state of Wisconsin,” Allen said. “The governor has a responsibility to allow the legislative process to do what it’s going to do and to review the testimony of any public hearings that are held on your bill. I think it would be a thoughtful and measured approach that would be the best approach, one that would look at the seriousness of the issues and evaluate on its merits.”

State Representative Shelton said she is fascinated to see Republicans want to arm teachers yet they don’t trust teachers to pick out the books and teach children age-appropriate curriculum and materials. She said they can’t have it both ways.

”Wisconsin Republicans have shown us who they are over and over again, through the legislature that the legislation that they put forward, and that legislation continues to take no action on gun violence,” Shelton said. “Again, gun violence is the number one leading cause of death for children. I am a mother. Representative Snodgrass is a mother. I speak to parents every day that are afraid to send their kids to school and the Wisconsin Republicans are responsible for their inaction.”

State Representative Scott Allen and State Senator Cory Tomczyk announced a proposal to allow school employees to conceal carry firearms on school grounds.