UW leaders urge lawmakers not to allow weapons in buildings

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — University of Wisconsin System leaders and police who protect the flagship Madison campus urged state lawmakers Tuesday not to allow concealed weapons to be carried into Camp Randall Stadium and other buildings, even as Gov. Scott Walker signaled that he doesn't have a problem with expanding where guns could be carried.

A pair of Republican lawmakers circulated a bill Monday that would allow concealed weapons to be carried into UW and technical college campus buildings throughout the state. Concealed weapons are already allowed on the grounds of public colleges and universities, but not into classrooms, football stadiums or other buildings.

The bill from Republicans Rep. Jesse Kremer and Sen. Devin LeMahieu comes less than two weeks after a gunman killed nine people at a community college in Oregon.

"The evidence does not support the idea that our campus would be safer if concealed firearms are allowed in our buildings," UW-Madison police spokesman Marc Lovicott said in a statement. "In states that allow concealed carry, these mass shooting tragedies have still occurred."

University of Wisconsin chancellors and Ray Cross, president of the entire system, issued a joint statement in opposition to the bill.

Lovicott said the Madison campus would not be safer. "Allowing concealed weapons inside a building like Camp Randall Stadium, filled with 80,000 people, creates a major security issue," he said.

Mike Sportiello, student body president at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, also urged lawmakers to reject the bill. Sportiello said in a letter the Legislature should "encourage an environment of learning, not one where we must constantly be in a state of worry."

Kremer and LeMahieu said in a memo seeking co-sponsors that the bill would make campuses safer.

"The unfortunate reality is that campus gun-free zones merely serve to concentrate populations of vulnerable targets on campus and surrounding areas," they wrote. "Students attending our taxpayer-funded colleges and universities should not be denied their Second Amendment right to carry a weapon for self-defense."

In reaction to the university's concerns, LeMahieu said he would work with it, an was open to possibly not allowing concealed weapons in stadiums and other sports venues.

Walker did not say Tuesday whether he supported or opposed the measure, but did not criticize the idea.

"I think the bottom line is the greatest fear I have about firearms are people who are not legal to have them in the first place. Those are the criminals. I certainly worry about that," he said. "Someone who's gone through and been certified to carry is not someone I'm concerned with in any circumstances, whether it's the Capitol or anywhere else."


Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sbauerAP


Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, http://www.madison.com/wsj

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Scott Bauer


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