Cornell gun show planned at high school sparks debate

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CORNELL, Wisc. (WEAU) - Less than one month after the Sandy Hook school shooting, one western Wisconsin school is letting a group bring thousands of guns through its doors.

A gun show scheduled for next weekend at a high school gym has sparked a debate in Cornell.

Some in town said it's a good location, and not a safety concern with no students in class.

But others said the timing and place send the wrong message.

"We've had it here last year. It worked well," Cornell hunting safety instructor Michael Schoonover said.

"We were approved through the school board to do that. So it's just a nice venue to have it with exhibition space," show organizer Marvin Kraus said.

Cornell High School Principal Dave Elliott said the building is meant to be used by the community, and the district talked to attorneys who said it was appropriate.

State law bans firearms from schools but has an exception for licensed dealers, importers and manufacturers.

WI Statute 948.605:
(2) Possession of firearm in school zone.
(a) Any individual who knowingly possesses a firearm at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is in or on the grounds of a school is guilty of a Class I felony. Any individual who knowingly possesses a firearm at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is within 1,000 feet of the grounds of a school is subject to a Class B forfeiture.

(b)Paragraph (a) does not apply to the possession of a firearm by any of the following:
1m. A person who possesses the firearm in accordance with 18 USC 922.
(a) It shall be unlawful—
(1) for any person—
(A) except a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer, to engage in the business of importing, manufacturing,
or dealing in firearms, or in the course of such business to ship, transport, or receive any firearm in interstate or foreign commerce.

"You don't allow tobacco on campus, yet you'll allow people to bring firearms on campus? It doesn't make sense," David Hugh of Cornell said.

Kraus said his event will help the school and community, by offering a $500 bonus to help pay for a new gym floor and free conceal and carry classes for school faculty in hopes that a law change could help them respond to threats.

"We'd like to see the school teachers and principal be able to have a conceal and carry on them," Kraus said.

"Bringing guns into school, isn't that sending the wrong message?" Hugh said.

"All the rules are strictly enforced ... It is a controlled environment and I think that's what makes it safe," Schoonover said.

"Being at the school, only a month removed from that shooting that's so fresh in everybody's mind, I think if they could just hold off, it would go over a lot better," Hugh said.

The show is Saturday Jan. 12, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday Jan. 13, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.