Sometimes, you stumble onto a word that can make all the difference in your Second Amendment rights. As I was taught in my CCP certification class, and have been quite vocal about both here on Bearing Arms as well as the NRA News program Cam & Company, Wisconsin residents holding a legal concealed carry permit can be allowed to carry on school grounds.
After posting the article Protecting America’s Children, a fellow Wisconsinite reached out to me for clarification on my assertion that “In the state of Wisconsin, concealed carry permit holders can request permission to carry from the principal of their local school, and a new law just went into effect this year allowing both off duty and retired LEO’s to carry in schools as well.”
Wisconsin legislators passed the bill allowing retired and off duty LEO’s to carry on school grounds along with the repeal of the 48 hour waiting period on gun purchases which Governor Walker signed into law on June 24, 2015. Although a bill to reinstate the 48 hour waiting period was just introduced by Wisconsin Democrats, who, you may recall, famously fled Wisconsin into Illinois to avoid a vote on the budget in 2011 – much like cockroaches scurry to dark places when confronted with a bright light, but I digress.
Currently under Wis. Stat. § 948.605(2)(b)1m and 18 USC 922(q)(2)(B)(v), “citizens can carry on school grounds in accordance with a contract entered into between a school in the school zone and the individual or their employer.” The word “individual” in the statute specifically allows a legal contract between a school and an individual to allow the individual to carry on school property.
I called a friend of mine, who happens to be a WI State Representative, for his interpretation of the statute. While he did agree with the fact that the word “individual” does open up the ability for an independent citizen (not through a security company or former law enforcement) to gain legal permission to carry on school grounds, we were left to define the school official capable of granting said permission. I argued for the principal since the statute cites a ” [a] school” and a principal is the head of each individual school, while he argued for school districts saying the principal ultimately answers to the district. Regardless, he does agree that the way the statute is written, it does technically allow citizens to carry on school grounds.
I asked a local resident this morning his opinion on the subject. Mr. P, whose wife is a teacher at the elementary school and taught both my daughters, was at first quite taken back at the idea of allowing people to carry guns in our schools. Then I asked him this: “How much do you think Sasha and Malia Obama’s armed detail costs taxpayers?” ‘No idea.’ he responded, but I followed up with, “What I’m saying is this: would you have a problem with me [specifically] carrying in the elementary school to defend and protect the students, free of cost? Would you feel better knowing that Mrs. P would at least have someone on campus who would be able to take down an active shooter before they reach her classroom?”
That got him. It’s important to put our arguments into real world situations so that citizens with opposing views can see how we are trying to defend and protect ourselves and those around us.
The general population is under the impression that carrying on school grounds is strictly prohibited, but we need to continue to challenge and study our state’s statutes for clarification. In researching this issue further, I went to wisbar.org (the State Bar of Wisconsin website). Even the attorney here states: “It is generally a crime, under Wis. Stat. section 948.605 , for any person to carry (openly or concealed) a firearm in or on the grounds of a school or within 1,000 feet of the grounds. A licensee may possess a firearm within 1,000 feet of school grounds but not in or on school grounds.” It is generally a crime? Since when is something generally a crime, especially when it relates to the Second Amendment?
While this has been turned this over to our Wisconsin State legislative attorneys for review and interpretation, I want to use this as a reminder that when we continue to talk about our Second Amendment rights, even using the same verbiage repeatedly, you never know how those words will open others up. All it took was one Bearing Arms reader hearing what I’ve said many times before to shine a spotlight on a single word in our state statute that does allow concealed carry permit holding citizens to carry in Wisconsin school zones if granted permission.