Student Senate talks guns

Wisconsin State Legislature may prohibit UW System universities from denying concealed firearms on campus; students to share feedback with Faculty Senate

Jeremy Williamson, Editor-in-Chief

The Wisconsin State Legislature is circulating a plan to amend the concealed carry law to allow the carry of firearms within university buildings. This would make the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, along with 26 other public higher education institutions in Wisconsin, unable to prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons anywhere on campus.

On July 8, 2011, Gov. Scott Walker signed 2011 Wisconsin Act 35 into law. Effective Nov. 1, 2011, it became legal for licensed individuals to be armed with a concealed weapon. Under the law, a person carrying the designated weapon would not violate any local disorderly conduct law. However, the law prohibits people from carrying those weapons into certain public buildings such as police stations or sheriff’s offices, prisons or jails, courthouses and schools.

On Oct. 12, 2015, State Rep. Jesse Kramer, R-Kewaskum, and State Sen. Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, began circulating a plan to allow concealed carries into University of Wisconsin System buildings, classrooms and stadiums—locations where they were defined as prohibited in the 2011 law. Their plan would null the prohibition of concealed carry into those areas that are currently designated as weapon-free zones.

The UW-Platteville Student Senate held a discussion on the matter at their Nov. 2 meeting, where Director Hannah Corcoran put together a short presentation and answered questions from guests and senate members.

Brittany Schmidt, senior media studies major and Student Senate director of marketing and engagement, said that her concern would be for students who are 21 or older and are living in the residence halls with legal concealed weapons. Corcoran said that she, as well as Bend and other senate members, have discussed the matter and said maybe residence halls could be a gray area because people are living there.

Another issue that arose during the meeting was the question of how many students at UW-Platteville actually have a concealed carry permit and what percentage of students would be enforcing their right to carry if the law were passed.

Vice President Joseph Sigwarth said that in order to obtain that information the Student Senate could conduct a student-wide survey and relay that information to the general student body once it is received.

According to the Oct. 27 Badger Herald, “Ray Cross, UW System president, and UW System chancellors said in a joint statement that they could not support the bill because of significant concerns and questions regarding its safety.”

Other states which now have provisions allowing concealed weapons on public campuses include Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas and Utah. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Utah is the only state to have a statute specifically naming public colleges and universities as public entities that do not have the authority to ban concealed carry.

According to the 2014 Department of Justice Concealed Carry Annual Report, the number of applications for concealed carry in Wisconsin amassed to 37,550 and the number of those that were approved and issued totaled 33,691.

The UW-Platteville Faculty Senate plans to hold a discussion covering the Resolution on Concealed Carry in Campus Buildings at 4 p.m. on Nov. 10 in the Nohr Gallery.

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