Governor Scott Walker’s long, conspicuous history of supporting pro-gun legislation backed by the National Rifle Association contradicts his proposals made earlier this week regarding the heated debate over gun violence and school safety, following the Parkland, Florida shooting that left 17 students dead. According to the Cap Times, Walker does not support any measure which will arm teachers to protect students.
Walker’s response to shootings in previous years included support for arming teachers, rejecting calls for stricter gun control and emphasizing the need to bolster mental health treatment — all fairly Republican measures that stall any proposals and bills that threaten the second amendment. Walker, who was given an “A” rating by the NRA, has been receiving continuous donations by the association since his election in 2010, amounting to $3.5 million, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign which tracks spending in politics.
But this week, he repudiated any connections made between himself and the NRA, claiming the only special interests he cares about are the people of the state.
Though he had previously supported arming teachers, he blatantly rejected the idea when he was asked about the possibility. Instead, Walker emphasized plans to meet with legislatures, teachers and parents before implementing a new school safety package. The school legislative package, which is currently in the works, focuses on extending grants and funds to increase the security for schools across the state.
Last week, the State Assembly voted to reject the Democratic proposals requiring a universal background check for gun purchases throughout the state. Instead, passing 71-24, the State Assembly passed the measure to offer funds for armed safety guards and strengthening bans on third-party gun sales. A proposal by Senate Democrats to allow schools to exceed the revenue cap on school safety was also halted by the Republican majority.
The contradiction between the actions by the state and Walker’s recent statements not only arouses confusion but also wanes political efficacy as political interests and incentives come to question.
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Though Walker wouldn’t divulge which ideas he supported, the evident shift in approach may well be mediated by the upcoming re-election in November as he seeks to run a third term.
It is a devastating time for our country and for education given the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida school shooting, but the whole world is watching as we layer yet another historic moment of mourning, praying, inactivity and forgetting.
The stark, abhorrent truth that has recently come to light in the media concerns our civil and moral obligations as a nation. Without collective action, apprehension and reason, the issue will eternally haunt our system. It is time to halt the menace of gun violence once and for all. And while this may mean sacrificing certain personal political values and interests, it should be a federal priority to protect education and ensure the institution’s safety and all that it stands for, especially as a vital institution for progression and change.
Ayaka Thorson ([email protected]) is a freshman who is currently undecided.