If activity so far is any predictor, there’s bound to be debate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison over a “campus carry” bill Republican lawmakers have vowed to introduce when a new session of the Legislature convenes in January.
A day of action organized by opponents of the bill last week had to be cut short after supporters of the bill “infiltrated” a group discussion around a table of literature at Union South, said Katherine Kerwin, a member of the Associated Students of Madison’s Legislative Affairs Committee.
Members of the student organization Young Americans for Freedom “came in and infringed on our action even though we had the space reserved for weeks,” said Kerwin, who organized a petition drive against campus carry.
She has promised to adopt the “Cocks not Glocks” campaign, passing out dildos to symbolize the absurdity of campus carry, and effort that drew national attention to ultimately unsuccessful efforts to stop a bill allowing the concealed guns at the University of Texas.
A proposal to allow armed individuals with concealed carry permits to enter Wisconsin schools, public or private, died a swift death in 2013 amid a storm of criticism. And last spring a similar measure failed to win a committee hearing.
Reviving the effort is state Rep. Jesse Kremer, R-Kewaskum, a co-sponsor last session of a measure that would have revised an existing law that allows the university to designate campus buildings as off limits for firearms.
UW-Madison officials have come out as opposed to any dilution of their ability to outlaw guns on campus.
Faculty also went on record against the proposed law last year.
At the Dec. 15 event at Union South, students gathered around the table of literature to criticize the opposition effort, even as others approached to try to get more information, the Badger Herald reported.
Some students criticized an ASM email survey on campus carry as likely to bring distorted results. Others said it didn’t matter whether students opposed campus carry or not.
A UW-Madison sophomore told the Herald that even if a majority of students don’t want concealed guns in campus buildings they can’t deny others their right to carry them.
“It’s a constitutional right,” said Cahleel Copus. “Nobody can infringe on these rights.”
Kara Bell of YAF said Tuesday that there was no effort by her organization to disrupt the ASM tabling event. Two YAF members attended to interview Kerwin, she said, while another acted independently to stand with a sign saying “If you want to hear the other side, ask me.” He was coerced into leaving by ASM, she said.
Others speaking in favor of campus carry were from the campus chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, Bell said.
“We plan to actively speak for campus carry in the spring when school starts up again,” she said.
Kerwin said this week that she expects to reach a goal of 3,000 signatures on a campus petition against the gun bill. The petition will be delivered to legislators whose constituents have signed after the anticipated legislation is introduced next session, she said.
Meanwhile, Gov. John Kasich on Monday signed a campus carry bill in Ohio, where faculty at public colleges and universities worked in opposition to it.
That brings to 17 the number of states where guns are not allowed on campuses.