Assembly Republicans scrap bill expanding who could bring guns into schools

2013-10-31T09:15:00Z Assembly Republicans scrap bill expanding who could bring guns into schoolsDEE J. HALL and JEFF GLAZE Wisconsin State Journal Chippewa Herald

Assembly Republicans late Wednesday scrapped a bill that would have expanded who could bring guns into Wisconsin schools, a day before it was scheduled for a committee vote.

The move came after Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, introduced an amendment to allow anyone with a concealed carry permit to bring a gun to school. School and law enforcement officials immediately lined up against the proposal.

The original bill that was scheduled for a vote on Thursday would allow retired, out-of-state and off-duty police officers to also carry guns in school. Then Kleefisch said he would seek a vote on his amendment, which, if passed, would have been one of the most sweeping exemptions to weapons-free school zones in the nation.

Currently under Wisconsin law, weapons are banned on school grounds except for on-duty law enforcement officers.

Kleefisch said he met with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, on Wednesday, and they agreed to pull back the legislation. He said he needed more time to talk to law enforcement, educators and gun rights advocates.

“A good legislator knows when a bill or idea is not ready for prime time and this bill is not ready,” Kleefisch said Wednesday night. “We’re going to pull the bill back and continue the discussion about what we can do in the future to make sure that our schools and our children are not sitting ducks for those who care to do harm to them.”

Kleefisch did not offer a timeline for when a future bill would be introduced and said it was too early to say whether any future iteration of the bill would include concealed carry permit holders.

Kit Beyer, spokeswoman for Vos, told The Associated Press late Wednesday that the bill would not be voted on by the full Assembly, but declined to say why. The bill had been scheduled for final action by the Assembly on Tuesday.

Kleefisch’s proposed amendment to Assembly Bill 9 would have still allowed school boards to ban weapons on the grounds and buildings of their K-12 schools, said Larry Konopacki, an attorney with the nonpartisan Legislative Council.

The Assembly Criminal Justice Committee, which Kleefisch chairs, was scheduled to vote on AB 9 and proposed amendments Thursday morning. The bill had a public hearing Oct. 10 — before the amendment was proposed — so no public testimony was scheduled.

“The bottom line is, right now, someone with (the) intent to harm children knows they can attack a school without any weapons inside,” Kleefisch said in an interview earlier Wednesday explaining why he sought the amendment. “That bad actor doesn’t care about the law when he decides to take a gun on school grounds.”

Even so, Kleefisch acknowledged then he had not lined up the votes on the Republican-controlled committee to pass his amendment, which was opposed by the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators and other education groups.

Steven Riffel, president of the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association, said his group supported the bill but did not support Kleefisch’s amendment. He said the typical concealed carry permit holder is not trained to confront an armed intruder in a school.

“Police officers are highly trained,” said Riffel, chief of the Sheboygan Falls Police Department. “They take an oath. They’re certainly capable of handling dangerous situations. That’s what a police officer does on a daily basis.”

In all, 40 states have some type of exemption to weapons bans on school property, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Most of those allow police officers, security guards hired by the schools or others with permission from school officials to carry guns. Eight states allow any concealed carry permit holder to be armed in school, but two states, Kansas and Kentucky, let districts ban weapons by “conspicuously” posting signs on school grounds.

Kleefisch said he offered the proposal “to get the conversation going” about how to protect children in schools, which he called “soft targets.” The United States has seen a spate of mass school shootings in recent years, the worst of which occurred Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six educators were killed.

Committee member Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee, called Kleefisch’s amendment “a terrible idea.”

Goyke said most of the 202,000 concealed carry permit holders do not have training in how to assess threats or how to defuse situations without violence. Goyke also noted that mass shootings sometimes occur in places where people carry weapons, such as the Nov 5, 2009, shooting at the Fort Hood, Texas, military base where 13 people were shot to death and 30 injured by a single gunman.

“These things happen anywhere, and more guns doesn’t make it safer,” Goyke said.

Ronald Stephens, executive director of the National School Safety Center in Westlake Village, Calif., said it would be an asset to a school to have trained and certified law enforcement officers who are armed. But Stephens is leery about arming teachers or having less well-trained members of the public “running around with guns.”

Despite all the public attention on shootings at school, Stephens said they remain “the safest places for children to be.” He said roughly 500 students have been killed at school over the past 20 years, which he called a “very, very small number” considering there are 130,000 public and private schools in the U.S.

Luis Yudice, school safety coordinator for the Madison School District, said allowing non-police officers to come onto school grounds armed would endanger children and staff. School personnel and students in Madison are trained to call 911 and go to a secure place if they see anyone besides a police officer with a gun, he said.

If other armed people are allowed to enter Madison schools, it could cause confusion and delay in identifying people who are threats, Yudice said. And arming teachers is no answer either, he said.

“We go back to our belief that the only people who should be able to carry weapons in schools are well-trained police officers,” Yudice said.

Dee J. Hall can be reached at or 608-252-6131; Jeff Glaze can be reached at or 608-252-6138.

Copyright 2015 Chippewa Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(18) Comments

  1. youknowme
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    youknowme - November 01, 2013 8:40 am
    Just clicked the "like" button.
  2. CVUSER50
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    CVUSER50 - November 01, 2013 8:07 am
    You call police officers super citizens. The men and women trained to be on call every hour of the day, every day of the week. You know what, they are super citizens. If there was a mass shooting, those super citizens would be in on their off duty time to help. They would put their lives on the line to save your children and you from being harmed. They have super training compared to the normal CC holder. I would hope they are allowed on school grounds, they are the very ones who are trained to protect and serve. What a ridiculous comment. Law enforcement officers don't think they have more rights then the rest if us, they know they do because they actually do. Do you have the right to arrest people? Do you have the right to pull someone over? Do you have the right to interrogate people? No, but with their training, and ongoing training, they have more rights because that's what pay them to do.
  3. youknowme
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    youknowme - October 31, 2013 4:03 pm
    I guess the statute I posted is wrong then. I don't think law enforcement think they're "super citizens" as much as they are statutorily protected, and highly trained to be law enforcement 24 hours a day....statutorily, Thanks though.
  4. Support The 2nd
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    Support The 2nd - October 31, 2013 2:18 pm
    Mr. youknowme, it is you who doesn't know the law, or what the bill contained.

    1. Gun Free School Zone is 1000ft from edge of school property. CCL holders are exempt from the 1000ft, but CANNOT carry ON SCHOOL GROUNDS.
    2. Retired and off duty law enforcement also CANNOT carry ON SCHOOL GROUNDS.

    Law enforcement think they are SUPER CITIZENS who should have more rights than the rest of us. Law enforcement supported the bill, but not the amendment that would have let "everybody" carry.

    The bill died because it was a law enforcement is "super citizen" bill.

  5. youknowme
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    youknowme - October 31, 2013 11:47 am
    From what I understand according to 948.605(2)(b)1r those who have a CCW are exempt from the school zone rule already. There is nothing in the statute regarding officers possessing in a school zone at all except with regards to discharging a firearm. Officers both off and on duty are exempt from the "carrying concealed weapons" statute anyway so they are covered as well. Just a case of lawmakers not reading AND comprehending laws they write.
  6. Merlin
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    Merlin - October 31, 2013 10:32 am
    The unfortunate part is that his argument is spot on:

    “That bad actor doesn’t care about the law when he decides to take a gun on school grounds.”

    How to properly deal with this is another question. I am all for schools having trained personnel with access to secured firearms in school buildings. Whether that be law enforcement or otherwise. I don't think that this is a stretch and teachers are used to certification training so having to attend courses and go through training including shooting range testing is not an unrealistic idea. The issue is to make sure that the "right" people are selected for this through screening. We would all like to believe that every teacher is "sane" but as with any community, teachers have their share of unstable individuals in their ranks.

    I do think letting anyone with a permit to walk in with a gun is extreme and I applaud them for pulling the bill to get input from the public along with law enforcement - smart idea.
  7. c from chippew co
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    c from chippew co - October 31, 2013 10:26 am
    e, I suppose the best way for you to get the answers your looking for would be for you to do a search, maybe check the fbi stats see if they have what your looking for. then you can check as many references as you need to. that would probably be the best hopefully most or closest to accurate numbers you will get.
  8. Enlightenment
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    Enlightenment - October 31, 2013 10:06 am
    c, I realize it is not plausible to place a number on the crimes that "may" have been prevented by the fact that a CC permit "may" have been present and that "may" have been enough to deter the potential criminal from acting. Again, I'm only asking for statistics from a credible source in which there has been an "actual" altercation or some sort of exchange between an armed criminal that is threatening peoples' lives and a CC permit holder that has drawn and/or fired their weapon. Again, only looking for stats on actual events that have occurred, have been witnessed, and documented, not hypothetical occurrences.
  9. W5951
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    W5951 - October 31, 2013 8:37 am
    He(Kleefisch) said he needed more time to talk to law enforcement, educators and gun rights advocates. About time a legislature talks to the public before creating a bill, Tom Tiffany take note.
  10. ectraveler
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    ectraveler - October 31, 2013 7:09 am
    The people doing the mass shootings are the ones with the guns. The shooters aren't illegally obtaining their weapons. Who really believes forcing schools to admit people even if they know they have a gun is a good idea?
  11. c from chippew co
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    c from chippew co - October 31, 2013 3:32 am
    as i was talking about in my other post we will never know if an offender was deterred in any way as to where they chose by just thinking someone could stop them or not let them do all they want. so in that way it indirectly could save lives or injuries we'll never know. directly by someone pulling their gun on an offender and shooting but not hitting the offender or not shooting at all, how would we ever get an accurate number people don't always report things. if there was a camera or witnesses then that's different than one on one. I think only concentrating on how many homicides prevented is too narrow of a way to look at it. also we cant know if any or all the public shootings or any gun free zone shooting would of been stopped or not by concealed carry because it was gun free.
  12. Enlightenment
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    Enlightenment - October 31, 2013 1:17 am
    c, appreciate your attempt to answer my question, but I believe you're reading too far into it. I'm just simply asking how many documented instances CC permit holders have used their guns in a public place, which could be interpreted (or not) into a life saving instance. It would be great to know statistics from a credible source, so if someone could provide or point me to a source, I'd be appreciative.
  13. c from chippew co
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    c from chippew co - October 31, 2013 12:23 am
    enlightenment I will try to answer your question, I don't know if there is a way to have a true accurate number because the people that do these things aren't really talking about it. if they survive it they don't talk about it honestly if at all and if they die, well that's it too. unless they left a journal about all of it and that is not likely either. now the only way I can think of to have some insight is to just look at if these things happen in areas they know there could be resistance or not. now for the most part I think it has to do with these peoples mindset, if something set them off suddenly or if they were planning it, either way I don't know if you would know about it unless they are acting different than usual and if anyone is around them enough to notice. as for stopping a homicide there is no way to know because many times people are shot or stabbed but don't die so i think the question might do better to be changed to say someone harmed in some way.
  14. The Miz
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    The Miz - October 30, 2013 9:37 pm
    What an assine idea! No wonder why people are so frustrated by government! We elect you to solve problems, not create more of them!!!!
  15. 8588
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    8588 - October 30, 2013 9:34 pm
    Wow this is such a crazy bad idea. What office does this guy hold or is running for? I am not from your area. This just sounds like more bad accidents waiting to happen if this passes. Pretty soon all parents will want to home school so they have a better chance of protecting their children while they get an education.
  16. cclover
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    cclover - October 30, 2013 8:37 pm
    It seems to me that our legislature has gone nuts.
  17. Enlightenment
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    Enlightenment - October 30, 2013 5:43 pm
    "In 2013, Governor Brownback (Kansas) signed into law legislation that creates a provision where colleges and universities cannot prohibit concealed carry unless a building has “adequate security measures,” however, governing boards of the institutions may still request an exemption to prohibit concealed weapons for up to 4 years." So it's crazy Republicans that want guns everywhere, whether schools (districts and higher ed.) want them or not. The only way KS campus can avoid this rule is to place manned scanners at all entrances of all campus buildings.

    One conveniently overlooked element is that many insurance companies are dropping coverage of schools in states where guns are permitted on school grounds. So in addition to increasing the chance of accidental shootings, it will cost the public more in insurance premiums.

    Instead of allowing a CC permit holder with a gun on school grounds, how about just increasing the number of police substations in public school buildings?
  18. Enlightenment
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    Enlightenment - October 30, 2013 5:24 pm
    This is an extremely bad idea and only being used to get votes. At least I hope that's the case and this guy doesn't truly believe its a good idea to increase the possibility of accidental shootings in schools.

    I've posted this question before without any responses: how many truly quantifiable instances are documented in which a person with a concealed carry permit has prevented a homicide in a public place? And does this number, justify the increase number of accidental shootings, not to mention the number of shootings by those with stolen guns? I do not object to people protecting themselves in their homes, but this is just wrong to bring more guns out in public places, least of all in schools.
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