Ron’s listening session tour shows how national security is a local issue

Ron’s listening sessions have revealed just how serious of a local concern national security has become, from the risks of terrorist attacks to the problems created by the federal government’s failure to secure the border. At one stop, Scott Knudson, chief deputy for the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office, said that the San Bernardino attack “kicked everything off” as a local issue. Read excerpts from the Pierce County Herald:

From the Pierce County Herald:

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson called a listening session last week to hear public feedback about national security from a local perspective.

He didn’t go home empty-handed.

Members of local law enforcement, as well as a smattering of citizens, sounded off on the issue, which has dominated the national discussion since recent terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., and Paris left dozens dead.

“We all share the same goal,” Johnson told a group of about 40 people in the North Hall auditorium on the UW-River Falls campus. “We all want a safe, prosperous, secure America.”

The first-term Republican from Oshkosh asked members of local agencies to step forward and weigh in on the issue during the meeting.

Scott Knudson, chief deputy for the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office, said the events in San Bernardino “kicked everything off” as a local issue.

“That’s got some businesses and schools reaching out for active-shooter training,” said Knudson, who was joined on the panel by North Hudson Police Chief Mark Richert, UWRF police officer Steven Nygaard and an FBI agent.

… Johnson, who chairs the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, then took aim at Central American drug cartels.

“Our insatiable demand for drugs is driving so much crime at a community level,” he said.

Officials at the meeting briefly discussed fusion centers, the offices where locally generated intelligence is fed to federal agencies for analysis and dissemination.

Johnson asked Knudson if the sheriff’s department had forwarded any suspicious activity reports to the center. A few, Knudson said.

Asked by Johnson what kind of response the department got back, Knudson said sheriff’s officials simply received confirmation of receipt.

“That’s not good,” Johnson replied, saying he would take that information back to Washington, D.C.

Members of the public also sounded off during a question-and-answer portion of the meeting.

Mike Farrell, a rural Pierce County resident from the town of Hartland, wondered aloud how the government could simultaneously call for more national security while restricting access to firearms.

“We have our anti-terrorist devices at home,” Farrell said.

Johnson said he’s a defender of the Second Amendment and called gun control “a divisive political wedge issue.”

The senator said he’s open to different solutions for preventing terrorism-related tragedies.

“People should have the right to defend themselves in their homes, and I’ll always support that,” he said. …