Jackson WI Nov 14 2016— A state lawmaker said Saturday he would introduce a bill to allow licensed gun owners to carry weapons on the grounds of private schools, and he expects to advance similar bills aimed at public K-12 schools and college campuses.
State Rep. Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) said the state's concealed carry law, which restricts permit holders from taking their weapons on school grounds, needs to be adjusted to match the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act, which includes an exception for those with CCW licenses. He said the effort is targeting private schools first because "it's an easier lift" politically.
Kremer also believes schools should be permitted to let licensed, trained teachers and other staff keep guns in schools as a means to stop deadly mass shootings like those at Columbine High School, Virginia Tech University and Sandy Hook Elementary.
"This is a real issue," he told an audience gathered Saturday at a forum on school security he organized at Kettle Moraine Lutheran High School. "This is not fear mongering."
About three dozen people listened and some posed questions to a panel made up of teachers, concealed-carry advocates, parents, law enforcement officials and the host school's superintendent. The panel and those who spoke, favored giving schools more authority to include armed teachers as part of their security plans. Former WITI-TV Channel 6 reporter Katrina Cravy served as moderator.
Michael Maas, a middle school teacher at Morning Star Lutheran School in Jackson, said that when his school does a lockdown drill, "I grab my aluminum baseball bat. It's the best weapon available to me," though it would do little to stop someone firing a gun into his classroom.
The discussion ranged from whether school staff can use Tasers or pepper spray (not Tasers, possibly spray) to the value of special locks on classroom doors to how much training is required to get a concealed-carry permit (none involving live fire) and even whether teachers with guns is anti-Christian.
Hartford Mayor Tim Michalak said even Jesus' disciples used swords at Gethsemane. "You have the right to defend the life the good Lord blessed you with," he said to applause.
Kremer's bill would only allow permit holders to keep their guns on school property. It would be up to each private school, he said, to set policies about taking the weapons inside buildings.
Panel member Kevin Michalowski, editor of Concealed Carry Magazine, said under current law parents who carry a gun must remove it and put it back on every time they enter and leave school grounds to drop off or pick up students. That kind of "administrative handling" is when many unintentional firearm discharges occur, he said.
David Bartelt, superintendent at Kettle Moraine Lutheran, said the school's security planning is always evolving and arming staff is still only a concept. He said he hasn't yet surveyed parents because he doesn't want to cause division, but said he was a little surprised no one turned out Saturday to strongly oppose the idea.