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Big Guns on Campus

Sep. 7, 2011
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With the nation's bloody history of student, teacher and administrator shootings at schools from elementary through college, it should go without saying that deadly weapons are banned from the state's 26 University of Wisconsin campuses.

However, it doesn't go without saying in Wisconsin anymore, and deadly firearms will now be permitted on campuses and in university parking lots, including at tailgate parties.

That says a lot about the potentially tragic consequences of the irresponsible reshaping of common-sense laws by Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican majority in the state Legislature.

The reckless concealed carry law gleefully passed by Walker's Republican extremists after Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle twice vetoed such dangerous legislation will take effect statewide Nov. 1.

Walker and Republicans refused to include an exception to continue current state law banning deadly weapons from the state university system.

As a result, UW officials announced they would take advantage of one of the few protections for the public in the law. They will ban guns from university offices and classrooms by posting signs next to building entrances prohibiting firearms inside.

With an estimated 10,000 university entrances statewide, you have to wonder how many millions of dollars the sign-makers' lobby had to pay Republicans in campaign contributions to reap that little, tax-paid boondoggle.

Fortunately, that will protect sports stadiums and other college athletic facilities that attract large crowds.

Unfortunately, university officials say they are powerless under the law to prohibit firearms in outside areas on campus, including parking lots where tailgating is taking place.

Golly, do you think college students have ever abused alcohol at a tailgate? What a great place for loaded, deadly weapons to be in the hands of loaded students.

Selling Out Public Safety?

How could Walker and Republican legislators be so completely unconcerned about potential tragedy? It's not as if school shootings are rare occurrences in this gun-crazed country anymore.

Well, here's a frightening thought: What if it's all part of Walker's “Wisconsin is open for business” agenda, even if the business happens to be a deadly one?

Since 2006, Green Bay, Wis., has been the business headquarters of TGSCOM Inc., headed by Eric Thompson, one of the largest online gun dealers in the country. You'd never guess what one of TGSCOM's nifty, little profit centers turns out to be: school shootings.

That's right. TGSCOM is the company that sold guns over the Internet to Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 people and himself on the campus of Virginia Tech in 2007, and to Steven Kazmierczak, who killed five people and himself at Northern Illinois University in 2008.

It's understandable Thompson would want to develop new markets on campuses in Wisconsin. The pattern of TGSCOM customers killing themselves after murdering as many other people as possible puts a real crimp in return business.

In 2009, another satisfied TGSCOM customer who had no business with a gun added to the company's blood-spattered history. George Sodini bought a gun through one of Thompson's websites to kill three women and himself at a Pittsburgh fitness center. That brought TGSCOM's known body count to 43.

Through all this, Thompson has been absolutely shameless in using publicity from the mass murders associated with his company as a marketing tool.

After the Virginia Tech shootings that not only killed 33 but also wounded 25 other students and faculty, Thompson actually appeared on campus to argue that the shootings demonstrated the need to allow concealed carry at the university so students and teachers could protect themselves.

After all, you never know when a madman is going to get access to deadly weapons through some Internet site in Green Bay, Wis.

Surely, no politician, not even Walker, would be so eager to cozy up to business interests he would overlook the downsides of deadly businesses that endanger public safety.

It's not like Walker ever plotted over the telephone with someone he thought was right-wing billionaire David Koch urging him to crush public employee unions because it would financially benefit Koch Industries.

Oh, wait. Walker did do that. Walker also included in his budget bill a provision to sell off 37 state power plants without taking any bids, an outrageous proposal dropped from the budget after the public found out.

Coincidentally, Koch Industries is in the business of buying power plants.

Koch's also in the business of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to extract natural gas, a practice banned in some countries because it can contaminate public water supplies and, incredibly, even result in “flammable water” coming out of faucets.

At the very least, Walker is callously unconcerned about the public safety consequences of his “anything for private profit” policies.

At worst, by failing to ban deadly weapons everywhere on college campuses, he's irresponsibly increasing the odds that the next campus massacre could take place in Wisconsin.


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