Republicans vote to allow 18-year-olds to carry concealed weapons on school property
MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Republicans in the state Assembly passed a series of bills to expand gun laws in the badger state, including a proposal to allow some high school students and parents to have firearms on school property.
During the Assembly's return to the floor since the new year, Republicans passed legislation that would lower the concealed carry age from 21 to 18, allow legal gun owners to have their weapon in their vehicle when dropping off or picking up their child from school, and allow anyone with a concealed carry license from any state to be armed in Wisconsin.
With gun violence on the rise in Wisconsin and across the nation, Republicans believe more residents should be able to carry a gun legally to protect themselves.
State Rep. Shae Sortwell (R-Two Rivers), author of the bill to lower the concealed carry age, contends if 18-year-olds can vote, they should be allowed to arm themselves.
"They are mature enough, they are adult enough to make these decisions and yet we are going to deny them the basic human right of self-defense?" Sortwell said.
Democrats argue the measure would backfire and result in inexperienced gun owners.
When applying for a concealed carry permit, state law doesn't require someone to actually fire a weapon.
"Guns in these situations do not make people feel safer," said Rep. Lisa Subeck (D-Madison). "In this state, you can get a concealed carry permit and never once get any hands-on firing a gun and that's terrifying."
State Rep. Deb Andraca (D-Whitefish Bay) called the GOP bills ridiculous because it would allow high school seniors with concealed carry permits to have a loaded gun in their car and at school events.
"This makes absolutely no sense, and quite frankly is scary to every parent with children," Andraca said.
Sortwell admitted his bill would lead to more guns on school property, but believes it's a "common sense" measure to avoid people breaking the law.
Currently, schools are specifically excluded from the state's concealed carry law, and individuals can face a felony if they possess a firearm on school property.
Republicans are looking to please their base this election year by introducing proposals like these, that are likely doomed for Governor Tony Evers' veto pen.
When asked, Evers said the GOP efforts to expand guns rights are "pretty bizarre," during a press event at the Capitol.
Evers and Democrats have long advocated for more gun control measures, such as universal background checks and red flag laws to allow judges to temporarily take away guns from people who pose a threat to themselves or others.
Both measures have been rejected by Republican leaders.