Bill allowing guns at schools won't get vote

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Scott Bauer, Associated Press | October 31, 2013

MADISON — A proposal to allow off-duty, retired and out-of-state police officers to carry concealed weapons at Wisconsin schools won't be getting a vote in the state Assembly.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos's spokeswoman Kit Beyer said Wednesday that the measure will not be voted on by the full Assembly but did not say why. The pronouncement came after the bill's sponsor, fellow Republican Rep. Joel Kleefisch, said he was going ahead with a committee vote Thursday to expand the proposal to allow anyone with a concealed weapons permit to carry a gun on school grounds.

That amendment was scheduled for a vote in the Assembly Criminal Justice Committee, which Kleefisch chairs. Kleefisch said that idea didn't have enough votes to pass the Republican-controlled committee, but he wanted to bring it up anyway to spur a discussion about school safety.

"I'm not sure the citizens of Wisconsin want concealed weapons holders on school grounds," Kleefisch said. "But it's going to get a vote, up or down."

Groups representing school district administrators, school boards and the city of Milwaukee all registered in opposition to the idea.

"I don't hear a lot of parents of Wisconsin schoolchildren calling for citizens to be carrying firearms in their schools," said John Forester, lobbyist for the School Administrators Alliance, which opposes the amendment.

Forcing a vote on the idea is a high-stakes way to start a discussion, said Democratic Rep. Evan Goyke, a member of the committee that will consider the amendment.

"We've got to defeat it. It's a terrible amendment," Goyke said. "It is very dangerous and unnecessary. My biggest problem is: How can a school know who is armed and who is unarmed and who is allowed to be armed and who is not allowed to be armed?"

The goal is to make schools safer, Kleefisch said. Schools need armed people who can fight back if there is an attack, he said.

But Goyke said that argument doesn't make sense.

"Good guys and good-intentioned people may sometimes act inconsistent with their intentions," he said.

The amendment allowing anyone to carry concealed weapons was introduced on Oct. 15, five days after the public hearing on the more limited bill. Kleefisch said he decided to introduce it as an amendment and not a separate bill based on the discussion at the hearing, not for any strategic reason.

But without Vos's support, the bill appears dead for now.

Six groups representing law enforcement officers around the state and the Wisconsin Department of Justice support the original bill allowing officers to carry weapons on school grounds. The Department of Justice, which processes applications for concealed weapons permits, has not taken a position on Kleefisch's amendment.

The department does not know how many of the 203,000 concealed carry permits have gone to current or retired law enforcement officers.

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