In a press conference with Madison public officials, students and educators, Gov. Scott Walker and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan were called on to make a difference in the push to pass new gun legislation.
Jennifer Cheatham, superintendent of the Madison public schools, stressed the importance of student safety in schools, saying “we demand action because school safety is not a political issue, it is only about keeping our children safe.”
Cheatham also emphasized the value of keeping the conversation of gun reform alive in Madison schools. She said Madison schools will “promote the dialogue as long as it’s a dialogue we need to have.”
Earlier in the press conference, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi reported that a petition with more than 5,000 signatures dealing with gun reform had been delivered to Walker and Ryan.
The petition was launched on Feb. 16.
The petition called on the governor to hold a special session in order to debate legislation that would ban bump stocks and assault weapons, require universal background checks and ban domestic violence offenders from owning firearms.
Parisi asked Gov. Walker and Speaker Ryan to “stop sending your thoughts and prayers if they’re not going to protect our children from the next shooting.”
Parisi was not alone in his call for change from the state and federal government. State Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison, asked Walker if he would “remain in the death grip of the NRA” in her plea for gun reform.
Joining the requests for help was James Howard, president of the Madison board of education. With the help of new legislation, Howard said that above all else, he wants to “limit the possibility of a school shooting ever happening again.”
Howard additionally spoke on Madison Metropolitan School District’s use of Educational Resource Officers, saying that their staffing isn’t in question, he wants to “improve [EROs] participation in schools.”
EROs are on-duty police officers that work full time in schools, and help administrations with crime prevention, security and conflict resolution.
Randy Bryce, Democratic candidate challenging Paul Ryan in the upcoming midterm election, was not a part of the press conference but arrived in support afterwards. He called on Wisconsin state legislators to act on the ideals of students and activists around the state, specifically calling for the ban of the AR-15.
“The bullet is designed to shred people,” he said. The Parkland shooter used an AR-15 style weapon in the Feb. 14 shooting.
Bryce, while not a member of the NRA, is involved in a backcountry hunting association. Despite his involvement in the gun community, Bryce supports a higher level of background checks, with the ultimate goal of making schools a safe place for kids.
Bryce added that it was encouraging to see students “demanding that adults act like adults and protect them.”