Bill would allow concealed firearms on school property in certain circumstances

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Legislation that would allow gun owners to have their weapon in their car while on school property was up for debate during a public hearing at the state Capitol Wednesday.

State Senator Andre Jacque, a Republican from De Pere, testified to lawmakers on the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee about a bill he said would ensure parents don't accidentally break the law when picking up their children from school.

The legislation Jacque co-sponsors with Rep. Rob Brooks (R-Saukville) would allow those with a concealed carry permit to have their gun in their car while taking their children to and from school.

"I think it's very important to allow parents to protect themselves and their families as they go about their day," said Jacque.

Currently, schools are specifically excluded from the state's concealed carry law and individuals can face a felony if they possess a firearm on school property. With school shootings on the rise across the nation, Jacque said the bill would also allow more people to be prepared if an event were to occur.

"We have law abiding citizens that are prepared to be able to respond in dangerous situations and this will enable them to continue to do," said Jacque.

The legislation received pushback from Democrats who serve on the committee. With a rise in gun violence and contentious school board meetings over coronavirus policies, Rep. Tim McGuire (D-Kenosha) said, "it's not a good idea to have more guns at schools."

"Obviously we have concerns about intense moments in highly heated interactions, and having access to [firearms] especially in these public forums where our children are," McGuire said.

In a statement, the Wisconsin Association of School Boards echoed similar concerns:

"The WASB opposes any initiatives at the state level that would legalize any further ability for anyone, with the exception of sworn law enforcement officers, to bring a weapon or possess a weapon, concealed or otherwise, in school zones."

Another proposal backed by Republicans would allow concealed gun owners to carry their weapon in private schools that have places of worship, as long as the facility approves. The measure passed on a party-line vote in the Assembly's State Affairs Committee.

This is not the first time Republicans have attempted to change gun laws on school property. In 2015 and 2017, when Republicans had control of the Legislature and the governor's office, they introduced a broader proposal that would allow guns inside schools and at sporting events.

It's unlikely Democratic Governor Tony Evers would sign the measure if it reaches his desk.

Democrats have pushed for stricter gun laws such as universal background checks and implementing so-called red flag laws, that allow judges to temporarily take away firearms from someone who poses a threat to others.

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