Wisconsin lawmakers want to permit guns on all public campuses

College police, administrators, students urging representatives to block the measure

Two Wisconsin state legislators introduced a bill forcing public colleges to allow concealed carry on campus—something college police and administrators are fighting, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Current law permits campus carry but enables schools to ban weapons inside buildings. The new bill, introduced by Rep. Jesse Kremer (R) and Sen. Devin LeMahieu (R), would prevent University of Wisconsin System campuses and those of Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) from prohibiting weapons inside buildings on campus for those with proper licenses. 

Kremer said that he created the bill because of attacks on UW-Milwaukee students in areas surrounding the school. Unarmed students cannot protect themselves, he says.

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But UW System leaders and student government at UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee say they are contacting their lawmakers and urging them to stop the bill.

On Tuesday, UW System President Ray Cross and the system chancellors released a statement that they had "significant concerns and questions with this proposal and cannot currently support it."

Classrooms often play host to "emotionally charged discourse and debates" and therefore are no place for weapons, WTCS spokesperson Conor Smyth said.

UW-Milwaukee's Student Body President Mike Sportiello sent a letter to lawmakers on Tuesday railing against the bill. "Mental health issues on college campuses continue to increase," he says, and gun wounds are the No. 1 method of suicide.

Sen. Chris Larson (D), whose district includes UM-Milwaukee, says the bill is "absolutely ridiculous" and based on the "lie" that gunmen target gun-free zones.

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But Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. says the bill starts a conversation the state needs to have. "What other constitutional rights do we ask people to check at the schoolhouse gate?" he says.

Meanwhile, the UW-Madison Police Department released a statement saying concealed carry does not make schools safer, and allowing concealed weapons inside Camp Randall Stadium "creates a major security issue."

Changing the law, they say, "would put the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and guests at risk" (Spicuzza et al., Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/13).

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