Board member backs move to allow guns in schools

Large wants district to support resolution urging state to allow people with permits to carry firearms in schools
By 
COREY SCHMIDT
Ozaukee Press staff

As students shop Walmart’s back-to-school section, Northern Ozaukee School Board Vice President Daniel Large wants   their teachers to have the option of adding guns and ammunition to their personal back-to-school shopping list.

Large on Monday proposed joining the Germantown School District in pushing forward a resolution urging the state to allow school boards to individually decide whether or not staff members with concealed carry permits can carry loaded guns on school grounds.

“I would like to see us discuss the idea of plunking our NOSD name in wherever it says Germantown, and sending the same resolution to the state,” Large said. “Hopefully a bunch of other schools in the state will do the same thing and the state will consider letting local districts decide.”

Currently the state prohibits districts from making that decision.

The Germantown resolution requests the state provide school districts with mental health resources, mobile weapon detection systems, teach advanced defense and firearm training for school staff members, implement school security aides and to allow those with concealed carry permits to have firearms on school grounds.

The Germantown resolution also suggests a sign posting, “Staff is armed and trained to use deadly force” to send a message to potential school shooters that the district will not be an easy target.

Germantown’s resolution was deemed opinion-driven and inflammatory by Northern Ozaukee board member Suzanne Miller, who said she plans on voting against the resolution.

“This version has a lot of inflammatory language that is unnecessary for what you are suggesting,” Miller said. “Think about what’s actually meant by this language; there is a lot of opinion here vs. facts.”

The resolution’s supporting points include that Wisconsin district attorneys and judges are “soft on crime” and implies that children with mental disorders contribute to school violence with one in five children having mental disorders.

Board member Stephen Burmesch agrees with Large but said he is concerned about what would happen if the resolution passes.

“What will happen if this resolution goes before the state in January? A lot of times (resolutions like these) are not popular with a lot of schools so they’ll kill it off in committee before it gets to the resolution table,” Burmesch said. “I agree with this resolution, but if not enough school districts agree with it, it’ll never make it (to law).”

Some legislators have voiced support for allowing those with concealed carry to bring firearms into schools, including Rep. Robert Brooks, R-Saukville, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.

“I would feel incredibly guilty if there were an active shooter at the school and I didn’t give (schools) the opportunity to put students in the safest environment,” Brooks said Tuesday.

Those opposed to the issue, including a staff member attending the School Board meeting, are concerned about what would happen if students accidentally got ahold of a gun.

“You’re not here everyday with these kids and teachers,” the staff member said. “This is not a solution (to school shootings). There are many other things you can do. I have a concealed carry permit myself (but) this is a no guns zone.”

School Board members said the district isn’t a “no guns zone” since they have a school resource officer.

Brooks said he understands the staff member’s concerns, adding it would likely be up to individual school districts to determine how to avoid those issues. Despite this, Brooks said, he would “put (the issue) out there for conversation” if a school board in his district, like Northern Ozaukee, formally requested it and Gov. Tony Evers loses the 2022 election.

“If Gov. Evers is still here then it’s not going to be signed in,” Brooks said. “If we have a different governor, then we could have a different conversation. But at this point, I think it would be futile.”

Brooks introduced a similar bill to the Wisconsin Assembly with the 2015 Assembly Bill 846. The bill would have allowed those with a concealed carry permit to possess firearms on school grounds as long as instruction is not being provided to students at that time.

While Brooks would entertain introducing this type of bill again, he said he believes strict regulations would be necessary.

“I don’t think it can be a simple majority (of the school board) for one major policy decision,” Brookes said. “I think there should be a potential requirement for a referendum to make sure you get parents’ input. There has to be some sort of requirement to coordinate with the sheriff’s department and all first responders, too.”

Brooks also said information regarding which teachers have firearms shouldn’t be public record. It should only be available to help coordinate with first responders.

Currently 32 states allow for concealed carry at schools. Wisconsin currently ranks below several of these states — including Alabama, Georgia and Missouri — in school shootings per capita, according to the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security.

The Northern Ozaukee school board will vote on the resolution at its Sept. 19 meeting. Large said if the state would allow individual school boards to decide  concealed carry policies on their own campuses, the school district should then revisit the issue.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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