University preps for concealed carry

Story by Breann Schossow

 

Starting Nov. 1, concealed carry legislation will go into effect in Wisconsin; meanwhile, at UW-Eau Claire, a few changes will also go into effect in light of the new law.

 

Signs prohibiting concealed weapons in all university buildings will be prominently displayed at every entrance, according to Teresa O’Halloran, senior assistant to the chancellor for Affirmative Action. In addition, university employees will be prohibited during the course of their employment from carrying concealed weapons even if they have a permit to carry one. This may include off-campus time, too, she said.

 

“The plan is to communicate with employees before Nov. 1 that they’re not going to be able to carry concealed
(weapons),” she said.

 

Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill in July removing the state’s ban, legalizing the ability to carry concealed weapons in most public buildings and areas if a person has obtained a permit.

 

The UW System attempted to get colleges and universities exempted during the legislation process, but was unsuccessful. However, the law does contain provisions that allow colleges and universities to prohibit people from carrying concealed weapons in buildings, according to the System.

 

 

Meanwhile, the UW-Eau Claire Police Department is preparing for the law to go into effect through workshops the officers are taking with the Department of Justice, UW-Eau Claire police Chief David
Sprick said.

 

He also said that officers will be training under new procedures about what to do in case they encounter a person carrying a concealed weapon that may or may not have a
CCW permit.

 

Sprick said currently, there are procedures about how to handle that situation. But, once the legislation passes, some of those procedures will not be applicable or need to be changed because concealed carry will be legal with
a permit.

 

“It’s a little tricky,” he said. “We need to work that out.”

 

Sprick said he hopes that people would feel safe on the Eau
Claire campus.

 

“We hope that people wouldn’t feel the need to be armed to feel safe just because a new law allows them to be,” he said.

 

Sprick said there have been a few cases over the years where they’ve encountered armed people
on campus.

 

According to crime statistics released by the university police, there were seven arrests on campus connected to carrying and possessing weapons between 2007-2009, and two arrests in on-campus student housing facilities linked to weapons between 2007-2009.

 

Sprick said that if anyone sees a person carrying a concealed weapon and shouldn’t be, the first thing they should do is call the police.

 

While buildings are off-limits, the university grounds are a public area, and non-employees and the public would be able to carry a concealed weapon with a permit, Sprick said, except if there’s an event that is fenced off and there are signs prohibiting concealed weapons.

 

He also said that people who plan to carry a concealed weapon can leave them in their cars in university parking lots. Sprick said if people chose to do that, they should unload it if it is a firearm, and put the weapon in a
locked compartment.

 

Sophomore Bri Rauscher said she has friends who agree with the passage of the concealed carry legislation, but admits she doesn’t know
much about it.

 

However, Rauscher said that as long as there are regulations such as the age requirement, training and other similar things, she too
supports the law.

 

“I think there are steps to make the law a little safer,” she said as she discussed the importance of the regulations to get a CCW permit.

 

Rauscher, who is a double major in criminal justice and Spanish, said she’s not concerned about the new law because she thinks legislators were careful
with it.

 

Meanwhile, freshman Lizzie Bolstad disagrees, saying that even though there are regulations, concealed carry could still be dangerous.

 

“Having it concealed … honestly, it would freak me out a little bit more about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”