You just can’t be too careful these days in Wisconsin, especially if you’re a Republican lawmaker. At least that’s what the Associated Press would have us believe. They published a story today about Wisconsin Assembly Representative Bill Kramer of Waukesha (where else?) who talks about the gun he carries onto the Assembly floor. It’s a Glock 26, a subcompact, semi-automatic handgun. The Assembly passed a rule recently allowing lawmakers to carry concealed weapons on the Assembly floor. The rule also allows anyone with a concealed carry license to pack heat in the Assembly's public observation galleries.
Getting the license under Wisconsin’s brand new concealed carry law is pretty tough, though. I believe you have to be able to breathe.
Rep. Kramer, the Speaker Pro Tem of the Assembly, says he needs the weapon due to the “toxic” atmosphere in the Wisconsin Capitol building. "Have you been in the Capitol lately?" he asks.
Why yes I have, Rep. Kramer. Thank you for asking. I’m there nearly every weekday to participate in the noon Solidarity Sing Along. It’s funny, though. I’ve never seen the “bands of protesters still angry over Republican Gov. Scott Walker's contentious collective bargaining law” who “have spent the past year harassing GOP legislators.” The AP insists they are there, though, and they’re never wrong. Maybe noon is when the violent thugs take their lunch break. They’re union, I’m sure, and they probably get an hour and a half.
I’m there sometimes in the evening, too, to observe you and your fellow Republican lawmakers ram through ALEC-sponsored bills that cut funding for education and healthcare and gut labor rights and environmental protections. I haven’t seen the violent protesters in the evening, either. I’ve only witnessed normal people getting arrested for silently videotaping the Assembly proceedings.
Now, I have seen members of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in the Capitol recently. They were rather polite considering how blatantly you guys were screwing them out of their treaty rights and plotting to poison their water and pollute their land. Watch your back, though. You can’t trust those Indians, right?
I can see why you’re genuinely scared. As the AP points out, somebody unfurled a banner in the gallery while you were debating a mining bill. Gee, I hope you weren’t injured. Those banners can be pretty heavy and could have hit someone in the head. Oh, and Governor Walker was interrupted by hecklers a few times during his State of the State speech in the Assembly chambers. I hope that woman screaming “Liar!” didn’t pierce your eardrums. Dangerous.
As the AP mentions, one of your fellow Republicans had a beer poured on him in September, but that was in a Madison bar, not in the Capitol. What the hell. Close enough.
Frankly, I’m surprised you’re even able to do your work in that toxic, dangerous Capitol. If someday you are talking to a lobbyist and some hippie comes up behind you singing “If I Had a Hammer”, I wouldn’t blame you at all if you whipped out the Glock and plugged him. A hammer is a deadly weapon, after all, so I’d consider that song a threat. Shoot him 5 or 6 times, just to be safe.
I do, however, have to take issue with the AP’s reporting that protesters “hurled profanities” at you during the mining debate. They did no hurling. They coughed into their sleeves and it sounded a lot like they were saying “bullshit”, but there was no hurling. Of course, if there had been any hurling, you would have been perfectly justified shooting into the gallery.
Yes, Mr. Speaker Pro Tem, I have been in the Capitol lately, and you are so right. It is a dangerous place. God bless you and your caucus. Stay brave, little soldiers.