Legislative Proposal Would Permit Concealed Guns in College Classrooms

October 14, 2015

Wisconsin’s public universities and technical colleges would no longer be able to prohibit people from carrying concealed guns in campus classrooms and buildings under a measure authored by two GOP lawmakers and backed by some pro-gun advocates.

The state’s current concealed carry law approved in 2011 by GOP-controlled legislature and Republican Gov. Scott Walker allows people who are licensed to carry concealed weapons to carry them on the grounds of public universities and colleges. But the law also allows the University of Wisconsin System (UW) and the Wisconsin Technical College System to ban weapons inside campus buildings, which they have done.

The measure to revoke the classroom ban was drawn up by Sen. Devin LeMahieu, of Oostburg, and Rep. Jesse Kremer, of Kewaskum. The lawmakers say current law effectively prevents students from being armed at all on campuses, and makes them targets for criminals on their way to campus.

Opponents, including the UW System and Democratic lawmakers who represent some of the campuses, say the bill would increase safety risks for students and faculty and not deter crime.

The measure is backed by Wisconsin Carry Inc., in Milwaukee, a pro-gun advocacy group. So far, the National Rifle Association (NRA), the nation’s most influential pro-gun lobby, and its state chapter, Wisconsin Firearm Owners, Ranges, Clubs & Educators, have not taken a public position on the bill, which is being circulated this week among legislators for support. Walker would not say whether he supports or opposes the bill.

In Wisconsin, the NRA has been an influential outside electioneering and lobbying group.

The NRA spent $3.6 million between 2008 and 2014 on independent expenditures to support Republican and conservative candidates for statewide offices and the legislature. About $3.5 million, or 96 percent, of the NRA’s election spending between 2008 and 2014 in Wisconsin was to support Walker. The group spent $666 on outside electioneering activities behalf of LeMahieu to help him win his 2014 Senate race, and contributed another $500 directly to his campaign. Both LeMahieu and Kremer are NRA members.

Since 2011 when Walker was first elected and the GOP took control of the legislature, the NRA has scored numerous legislative victories, including concealed carry; the elimination of the 48-hour waiting period to buy a gun; and legal protections for people who shoot trespassers inside a home, business or vehicle, commonly called “castle doctrine.”