Republican lawmakers plan to re-introduce legislation that would let licensed gun owners carry concealed weapons in UW buildings.
In February 2016, a group of Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin created Assembly Bill 846. The bill was created to allow licensed gun owners to have a gun on school property, but it never received a hearing in the last session. As a new session approaches, Representative Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) plans to re-introduce that bill, sparking debates at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and other campuses across the state.
"An active shooter situation or an active threat is the second highest safety concern to students on campus," said Detective Chris Schuster of the UW-La Crosse Police Department.
Supporters say this legislation was designed to keep people safe; however, Schuster says that even with good intentions, this bill would add extra safety risks.
"If there is an active threat, and somebody is trying to combat that threat, now we show up, as a police department and we could be walking into the Wild West not knowing who the bad guy is, who the good guy is, and it would make policing difficult if we're trying to police numerous people with a weapon on campus," said Schuster.
He adds that with alcohol being popular on college campuses, putting guns into the mix could cause even bigger problems.
"When there's a lot more risky behavior by students, um, you know you have the binge drinking thing on campuses there's a higher suicide rate among students," said Schuster. "Now you throw weapons into the mix of that and we don't think it's going to be a good thing."
UW-La Crosse Student Association President Jacob Schimmel echoes his opposition of the bill.
"We did a survey to the student body where approximately three fourths of them stated their opposition of concealed carry within academic buildings, and I strongly stand by that," said Schimmel. "This year I'm hoping that our student senate takes that stance firmly, and that we can advocate against that legislation moving forward."
He says the legislation is going against the public opinion on the UW-La Crosse campus.
"Overwhelmingly, the students don't support it, the faculty doesn't support it, academic staff don't support it, so what's the point," said Schimmel. "If people that you're supposed to be serving don't feel comfortable with it and safe with it, then you're not really serving them."
Schuster says the UW-La Crosse Police Department supports Second Amendment rights, but not in this context.
News 19 reached out to Representative Kremer, and he has not responded to our request for comment.
Current laws allow people to conceal and carry weapons on campuses outside, because this is considered public property.
There is no word yet on when the bill will be re-introduced.