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Wisconsin attorney general open to allowing guns in schools (UPDATE)

Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel on Tuesday said he’s open to allowing teachers and others to be armed in schools. The remarks came six days after a shooting left 17 dead at a high school in Florida.

But the Legislature, which is racing to complete its work for the year, appears unlikely to take any gun-control action. Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he would be open to a discussion about allowing guns in schools, but that doesn’t mean a bill will get passed this year.

Schimel’s comments on WTMJ-AM came shortly before Madison high school students joined Democratic lawmakers in the state Assembly to call for tighter gun control measures.

Schimel, who is up for re-election in November, said allowing guns in schools is a “discussion we should have” and ultimately it’s up to the Legislature to decide. The question, he said, is whether state law should continue to prohibit guns in schools or whether the schools should have the option to legalize it.

“Law-abiding gun owners don’t go and shoot up schools,” Schimel said. “When you make a school a gun-free school zone, the only person you’re stopping is the law-abiding gun owner who doesn’t want to get in trouble.”

Vos said during a news conference that he would be open to discussions about schools arming their personnel.

“If a local school district decides that they would like to have the ability to train a teacher or a security guard or folks to be able to defend themselves if something should happen, I’m opening to talking about that,” he said. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to have a bill, doesn’t mean there’s something to propose.”

Republican State Rep. Jesse Kremer, of Kewaskum, on Monday proposed a bill that would allow weapons in private schools that want them.

Kremer, who is leaving the Legislature after this year, said it could serve as a pilot project that could be expanded to public schools. Kremer said gun-free school zones “merely serve to concentrate populations of vulnerable targets on school grounds and surrounding areas.”

The Assembly’s last floor votes of the two-year legislative session are scheduled for Thursday. Vos did not answer questions about Kremer’s bill during his news conference.

Assembly Democrats on Tuesday asked Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislative leaders to take immediate action on bills to institute universal background checks, prohibit people convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor from possessing a gun and banning bump stock sales. They were joined by Madison high school students.

Annabel Stattelman-Scanlan, a junior at Madison East High School, said allowing guns in schools takes the focus off prevention. The nation needs to look at the cause of the problems “rather than minimize the effects,” she said.

Madison East High School junior Anne Motoviloff said “incompetent” legislators backed by the National Rifle Association have blocked change.

Vos said the Democratic bills lack broad support in the Assembly and Democrats haven’t tried to talk to him about the proposals. Vos also called their demands for action a “sad, cynical” ploy to grab headlines.

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