MADISON—The University of Wisconsin System is seeking to exclude public and private college and university property from legislation to allow individuals to carry concealed weapons.
In a letter sent Monday (Oct. 20) to the co-chairs of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance, UW System President Katharine C. Lyall said most states that have passed concealed weapons laws exempt college and university lands. As an alternative, some states allow colleges and universities to themselves prohibit concealed weapons on their campuses, Lyall said.
“On behalf of our students and their parents, our faculty and staff, and visitors to our campuses, I strongly urge you and your committee to allow for such a provision,” Lyall wrote to Sen. Alberta Darling, R-Menomonee Falls, and Rep. Dean Kaufert, R-Neenah.
Concealed weapons legislation proposed in the Senate and Assembly exempts taverns, churches and K-12 schools. Lyall urged the lawmakers to extend that same exemption to UW System campuses, Wisconsin’s private colleges and universities and state technical colleges.
“Our campuses can be emotionally charged places, not just within classroom buildings, but in public gathering places such as the Library Mall here in Madison,” Lyall wrote. “Emotions can run high and it would be tragic if those emotions were to result in the use of weapons to resolve differences.”
Lyall added that university officials are concerned with persons carrying concealed weapons in fraternities and sororities as well, which are affiliated with the campuses but may not necessarily be located on them.
Lyall cited an incident that occurred last year at the University of Arizona, where a nursing student shot to death three professors before killing himself because he was failing his classes.
“Students under great duress are not above taking the lives of their teachers,” she wrote.
The Joint Committee on Finance could vote on the concealed weapons legislation this week.