Proposed law will allow more guns into Wisconsin schools

The bill is stirring up a mixture of opinions in La Crosse

A potential law could allow more guns in Wisconsin schools. Wisconsin lawmakers are holding a hearing Tuesday on a proposal that would allow off-duty and retired police officers to carry guns in schools.

The bill has received wide support from both sides of the aisle, but it is stirring up a mixture of opinions right here in La Crosse. Local police officers are in support of the proposed law but some administrators say one gun on school grounds is more than enough.

For nine years Heath Graves has interacted and protected countless Logan High School students.

“It’s kind of a dual role because we are police officers, but we are also a part of the administration, so we deal with school issues and any legal issues that come up,” Graves said.

Graves is one of five resource officers in the La Crosse School District. He said his job isn’t that different from a regular La Crosse police officer.

“At any given time there is probably about 1000 students and staff here, so it’s almost like a small community captured in one building,” Graves said.

Between patrolling the halls, dealing with student discipline issues and  taking watch at sporting events, officer Graves has a lot of ground to cover. He said he supports a proposed law allowing off duty or retired officers to carry guns on or near schools.

“If there is an off duty officer or retired officers and something does happen, that’s just kind of like backup,” Graves said.

Each La Crosse police officer is required to go through gun training four times a year, and retired officers must do so at least once a year.

“Even though they are retired they still have a continuing qualification in firearms to make sure they are proficient,” Graves said.

La Crosse Superintendent Randy Nelson fears the law could start a dangerous trend.

“Personally I think that one gun inside of a school is one gun too many,” Nelson said. “As this is allowed to happen it opens up the doors for other things, and more of a proliferation for guns inside of our schools.”

Graves said as long as this law only applies to current or former officers, it will benefit staff and students.

“Now if it’s the general public who has concealed carry, I would be concerned because I don’t know what type of training they do,” Graves said.

State law currently bans all guns on school grounds other than for an on-duty officer. However, the La Crosse School District does allow off duty officers who might be picking their kids up or going to a sporting event, to keep their guns on them inside schools.

A proposal to allow anyone to carry concealed weapons on school grounds failed to pass last year.