MADISON -- Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) on Wednesday, January 13th, along with co-author, Rep. Rob Brooks (R-Saukville) unveiled legislation that would allow school districts to prohibit concealed carry within school buildings -- while at the same time, allow concealed carry permit holders to carry on school grounds.
The legislation is in the very early stages -- but already, there are a lot of critics.
"I`m optimistic we can get some traction on it," Lazich said.
Weapons are not allowed on school grounds in the state of Wisconsin.
According to Lazich's office, the "Wisconsin School Zone Empowerment Act" would make Wisconsin’s law compatible with federal law.
The bill provides local control by allowing school districts to prohibit concealed carry within the school buildings, and clarifies the law about concealed carry within a school zone, according to Lazich's office.
"Persons are inadvertently violating the law and they don`t know it," Lazich said. “The Wisconsin School Zone Empowerment Act is a technical fix to an unintended consequence created by the adoption of the concealed carry law. The bill expresses the intent of the federal Guns Free School Zone law by permitting concealed carry licensees to carry on school grounds. Simultaneously, it grants each school district the authority to establish policy about concealed carry within school buildings."
“This issue was brought to my attention by school administrators and school board members in my district,” said Lazich. “Wisconsin is home to over 242,000 concealed carry licensees. These are well-intentioned individuals licensed by the state to carry a weapon. This bill clarifies the duties of concealed carry licensees, while allowing school districts to create policies within school buildings.”
Gun rights advocates say they have been waiting for legislation like this.
"If you follow the letter of the law, you have to stop outside of school grounds, get out of your vehicle, unholster and unload your gun and put it in the case," Nik Clark with Wisconsin Carry said. "We`re looking to insulate, moms, dads, uncles, grandparents who pick up kids, from accidentally committing a felony."
Critics are crying foul.
"This is insane," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said.
Mayor Barrett calls the proposal bad for school safety.
"I do not want to have guns at any event that involves children on school premises," Mayor Barrett said.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said Thursday, January 14th while he supports the bill, he doubts it will advance during this legislative session because "it's not a priority at all" to the Republican caucus.
“It’s been introduced incredibly late in the session. Of course I support the right of legal law abiding gun owners to be able to have a legally owed weapon – I have no problem with that. But we haven’t really had a discussion inside of our caucus. And quite frankly, as I have traveled around the state and been home in my own district, there haven’t been a lot of people who have asked me for this, just as I said about campus carry. I support the bill, but it’s not a high priority for Republicans. In fact, it’s not a priority at all, but I would definitely be open to the discussion in our caucus and we’ll see where it goes," Vos said.