The Latest: Assembly passes school guard grant bill
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Latest on gun control bills in the Wisconsin Legislature (all times local):
The state Assembly has passed a Republican bill creating a grant program to help schools pay for armed guards.
The vote comes six days after a mass shooting at a Florida high school left 17 dead.
Under the bill, school districts could receive grants from the state Justice Department for three consecutive years to pay armed security officers in schools with grades 5-12. The grants would cover 75 percent of the cost the first year, 50 percent the second year and 25 percent the first year. The bill doesn’t specify how large the grants would be or where DOJ would get the money.
The bill also would make purchasing a gun for someone prohibited from possessing one a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Repeat firearm violators would face a new mandatory four-year prison sentence through mid-2022.
The Assembly passed the measure 71-24 on Tuesday. The bill now goes to the state Senate.
The state Assembly is debating a gun control bill hours after Republican Speaker Robin Vos said he didn’t believe the body would pass anything before the chamber’s two-year session ends.
Minutes after floor debate began Tuesday, Democrats moved to place a bill mandating universal background checks on the day’s agenda. In a surprise move, Republicans agreed. They then amended the bill to remove any mention of background checks and instead create a grant program to pay armed guards in schools. Democrats countered with another amendment restoring background checks.
The two sides were still fighting over amendments three hours after the floor debate began.
Vos has said he wants to finish the session Thursday.
Wisconsin Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel says he is open to allowing teachers and others to be armed in schools.
Schimel talked about the issue on WTMJ-Radio on Tuesday, less than a week after a Florida high school shooting left 17 dead. His comments came shortly before Madison high school students joined Democratic lawmakers in the state Assembly to call for tighter gun control measures.
Schimel says allowing guns in schools is a “discussion we should have” and ultimately it’s up to the Legislature to decide.
He says the question is whether state law should continue to prohibit it or whether schools should have the option to legalize the carrying of guns.
Democratic lawmakers are urging Republicans to take up various gun control bills before the session ends.