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While Guns on School Grounds Proposal May Stall, Debate Over Gun Rights will Continue

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It appears Wisconsin's current gun ban inside and outside schools will continue, at least for now

Several Republican lawmakers announced a proposal this week to lift the ban on carrying concealed weapons on school grounds. Now, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he doubts there's time for the plan to make it to the floor for a vote this session. He says besides, he has not heard anyone clamoring for the bill.

It was just last week that President Barack Obama expanded background checks to people who purchase firearms at gun shows. Following his executive order, interest in gun purchases reportedly spiked at some locations.

Then this week, New Berlin state Sen. Mary Lazich proposed lifting Wisconsin's ban on concealed weapons on school grounds. Districts could decide whether to allow guns inside buildings. The Republican says the change would ease the fears of residents who have concealed carry permits, and drive kids to and from school.

"These are good law-abiding people, well intentioned people, and if they were to enter upon school grounds, they would be committing a felony, and that's very, very problematic," Lazich says.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett was among those who swiftly batted down Lazich's proposal.

"Obviously, I would be doing everything in my power to try to make sure that we wouldn't have guns in classrooms here," Barrett says.

Even though the Assembly speaker dealt a blow to the plan Wednesday, Jeri Bonavia doesn’t expect this to be the last time Wisconsin lawmakers debate gun rights. Bonavia is with the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort. She says you can count on a steady stream of proposals from gun rights advocates.

"We know every year that NRA and other pro-gun lobby organizations have a list of policies they that they would like to see enacted here in in Wisconsin and in other states around the country, and with legislators who rely on and depend on contributions from the NRA, we see those bills being drafted," Bonavia says.

Jim Fendry agrees -- there will continue to be efforts to lift restrictions on gun possession. Fendry heads the Wisconsin Pro-Gun Movement.

"Generally, the trend throughout the nation is to become more liberal in not only the issuance of permits to carry concealed, more and more states are going over to the idea that Americans have that right under the federal constitution and under the constitutions of most states, so they're allowing people to carry concealed, without having to get permits," Fendry says.

It appears interest in gun ownership is growing in Wisconsin. In the first 12 days of this year, the state's background check hotline took more than 6,000 calls. That's more than double the amount during the same period last year.

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