Republicans in the Wisconsin state legislature are responding to concerns about school shootings in the worst possible way.
A proposal on Tuesday proposed by state Assembly Democrats would have strengthened background checks, ensuring they be used on every gun purchase in the state, including closing the “gun show loophole” and limiting questionable internet sales.
That proposal was soundly rejected by GOP lawmakers, who had a different plan in mind: Put more guns in schools.
The Assembly voted 71-24 to support a grant program that would help schools pay for armed guards. All Republicans voted for the measure, with some Democrats even supporting it. But these lawmakers disregard a simple fact: armed guards won’t stop determined shooters.
There was an armed guard, for instance, at the Parkland, Florida, high school where a shooting occurred last week. That didn’t stop gunman Nikolas Cruz from inflicting damage and killing 17 individuals.
State Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) wasn’t having it.
“How can my Republican colleagues refuse to meaningfully act in the face of children being murdered at their schools?” she said in a statement. “How many more children have to be murdered until they represent their constituents and not the gun manufacturers?”
Trained armed guards is one thing. But another lawmaker, state Rep. Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) is proposing a controversial idea: allow teachers in private schools with concealed carry licenses to carry guns during the school day. Kremer is a fierce pro-gun advocate who has made similar calls for public schools in the past.
Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort President Jeri Bonavia told TMJ4 that she disagreed with the proposal.
“The evidence and the research is really strong that more guns in more places does not make us safer,” she said.
Research does suggest an individual taking time to try and stop an intruder is five times more likely to be shot themselves. At that point, under the possible scenario Kremer is suggesting, an educator can no longer assist students trying to escape, which makes them vulnerable targets to a shooter.
The Wisconsin Republican Party’s beliefs that a gun in a teacher’s hands can somehow stop an attacker with an assault rifle also runs counter to nearly every protocol to follow when there’s an active shooter. Even the Federal Emergency Management Agency is decidedly against using force against a gunman, calling it a “last resort” after running away or hiding.
It is quite telling that GOP lawmakers in the legislature are more willing to support proposals that would undoubtedly lead to more sales for the gun lobby than to actually enact reasonable reforms, like strengthening background checks for buyers. It’s clear that Republicans don’t care about their constituents’ wishes, opting instead to support policies that are NRA-endorsed proposals that would have limited, if any, positive outcomes.