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Walker Opposed To Arming Teachers

Walker Says State Gun, Safety Bills Are In The Works

Scott Walker
Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Gov. Scott Walker said Wednesday he is opposed to arming teachers, and that he’s working with state lawmakers to introduce a number of bills aimed at changing Wisconsin gun laws and promoting school safety.

“I think, having talked to teachers, most teachers aren’t interested in that,” Walker told reporters after addressing the state business lobbying group, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce in Madison.

The governor weighed in on gun legislation as lawmakers, advocates and constituents across the state and country continue to call for changes to gun laws in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School earlier this month in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people.

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“We’re looking at an entire package (of bills) that will look at school safety and other issues related to that,” Walker said. “There’s more we can do.”

Speaking with reporters after the event, Walker said arming teachers will not be part of the package of gun and school safety bills because “most” teachers aren’t interested.

Walker said he started meeting with lawmakers about the bills last week, but wouldn’t disclose information about specific proposals.

“I think there’s an active interest in a comprehensive plan,” Walker told reporters.

The state Assembly has completed what was thought to be their last day of voting in 2018. If the governor wants the gun and safety proposals to become law before 2019, he would need to call lawmakers back to Madison to take them up.

“We’re talking about that right now,” he said.

In recent weeks, Democratic state lawmakers have pushed for changes to state gun laws, including implementing universal background checks, prohibiting people convicted of domestic violence from buying guns, and barring the sale of bump stocks, which make guns more lethal, in the state.

Madison high school students joined Democrats in making that call for action.

The state Assembly did not move forward with those measures before completing their work for the year. Instead, it approved a GOP-backed state grant program to arm safety officers in schools and a plan to increase penalties on people who buy guns for others who are legally barred from owning them.

The grant program has yet to be approved by the state Senate. The penalties for so-called “straw buying” are awaiting the governor’s signature.

Leaders of the state Senate and Assembly didn’t immediately return requests for comment.

The governor also weighed in Wednesday on his history of accepting campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association, which has been criticized by some for its response to the Parkland shooting.

According to an analysis released Wednesday by Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a watchdog group, Walker has accepted roughly $3.5 million from the NRA since 2010.

Walker said he is operating independently of organizations that donate to his campaigns.

“My special interest is the people of the state of Wisconsin, if people support me or not based on my positions and my actions, it’s open to anyone out there who wants to support me,” he said.