Oct. 5, 2006 — -- After the deadly school shootings in Colorado, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, one legislator has proposed a plan that would actually put more guns in schools.
Wisconsin state Rep. Frank Lasee, R-Green Bay, said he would introduce a measure in the state legislature early next year that would give teachers and other school employees the option of carrying concealed guns after they have received extensive weapons training.
"I want to end the turkey shoots that go on in our schools," said Lasee, who represents constituents in suburban Green Bay, where a school shooting plot was recently foiled.
"I don't suggest [arming teachers] is the only answer or the silver bullet to solve all our school violence problems," Lasee said. "But it's part of the puzzle of making our schools a safer place for our children."
Lasee, who owns a gun himself, said his admittedly "controversial" proposal has so far received a lukewarm response from Wisconsin school officials.
Pete Pochowski, director of school safety for the Milwaukee Public School system, calls the measure an "overreaction" that would lead to more violence in the classroom.
"Just taking a course and shooting some bullets down-range every six months does not adequately prepare you for the potential risk of having that gun taken from you," said Pochowski, a former Milwaukee police officer.
"These high school students are bigger than they've ever been," he said. "We've seen them take guns from police officers who are trained in how to retain that weapon."
The measure has also drawn criticism from gun control advocates, both in and out of Wisconsin.
"I'm shocked," said Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "When I'm making a decision on where to send my kids to school, there's a lot of factors that go into it. I don't think people want to look at the marksmanship scores at the same time they're looking at the academic scores."
"I think it's an absolutely ridiculous response," said Tom Mannard, executive director of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. "This will help score some points with at least the gun lobby in Wisconsin. I don't know that it's going to help educators and those in the classrooms."
But some believe the measure shouldn't be dismissed without careful consideration.
"I'm not saying all teachers should have a gun, but if some people do, it can have a real deterrent effect," said John R. Lott, a visiting professor at the State University of New York at Binghamton, who has studied numerous multivictim public shootings and wrote two books on gun issues.
Even if the measure finds support in the Wisconsin state legislature, Lasee still faces other hurdles. Federal law currently bans guns on school grounds except for the weapons carried by school security officers.
"We may have to seek changes or exceptions to the federal law. We're still researching, " Lasee said. "We may be able to circumvent that."
Pochowski said the roots of school violence need to be examined closely and measures put in place, but preferably after nervous administrators, parents and students have had time to calm down.
"We're looking for good, sound ideas," Pochowski said. "Not ideas that sound good."