EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)– A bill announced Monday would allow students and faculty to carry concealed weapons on UW-System and technical college campuses.
Wisconsin State Representatives Jesse Kremer and Devin LeMahieu, proposed the bill that would exempt publicly funded universities from the state’s conceal and carry laws.
Kremer says many students walk to and from class in the early morning or late evening, often through high crime areas, and says this act would allow those students the right to defend themselves.
But UW- Eau Claire Police Chief David Sprick believes the act wouldn’t make the campus any safer.
“Officers are very capable and very proficient with their weapons. There may be a conceal and carry permit holder who’s also very proficient, but we wouldn’t really know how much safe handling of the weapon they’ve had, or experience with the weapon,” says Sprick.
“Whether or not this is the right response, I think is a conversation we need to have, and I hope that the legislators will talk to the students, faculty and staff that would be affected by it before making a decision,” says Joe Gow, Chancellor at UW-La Crosse.
UW-System President Ray Cross released a statement Tuesday saying “We take the safety of our campus communities very seriously and know that our legislative partners do as well. We have significant concerns and questions with this proposal and cannot currently support it.”
Students on the UW-Eau Claire campus have mixed reviews.
“I’d probably feel safer, just because I know the people that are taking these classes will know what they’re supposed to do,” says Hunter Cormican, sophomore at UWEC.
“It would make students feel less safe, not knowing who is carrying, and you’d just be unsure of things… that person could be carrying one, you could be sitting in class with someone who is carrying a gun in their backpack,” says Kelsey Steinke, senior at UWEC.
President Jake Wrasse from the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate released a statement saying “Though the Campus Carry Act is aimed at decreasing gun violence at universities, the possible unintended consequences of having more guns present could complicate police responses to active shooting situations and increase the likelihood of an innocent bystander being wounded.”