Bills Allowing Concealed Guns in Schools Passes Senate Committee

Stacy Bogard

By Stacy Bogard, CAE, MASB Assistant Director of Communications, PR & Marketing

DashBoard, Oct. 14, 2015

Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee reported a bill that effectively eliminates gun-free zones. While open carry would no longer be allowed, individuals with concealed pistol licenses would be able to take concealed firearms into buildings currently designated gun-free.

Senate Bills 442 and 561, introduced by Sens. Mike Green (R-Mayville) and Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) respectively, are tiebarred together to change the state’s handgun licensure law and the penal code to make the change.

Currently, a person cannot possess a concealed firearm on the premises of a school, college or university dorm/classroom, financial institution, church or other house of religious worship, court, bar, entertainment facilities, casino, sports arena or stadium, day care center or hospital. Law doesn’t prohibit the open carry of firearms at schools, universities, community colleges or public libraries. Private owners would retain the right to ban weapons—concealed or openly carried—on their premises.

Testimony was given by church officials, gun control advocates, gun rights backers, as well as education officials. MASB Executive Director Don Wotruba, Sault Ste. Marie Area Public Schools Superintendent Timothy Hall and Ann Arbor Public School Superintendent Jeanice Swift spoke in opposition to the bills.

"We are not coming here as an association that's anti-gun, but one concerned about the safety of our students," Wotruba said. "(Open-carry) has become disruptive. Moving to a concealed carry system only hides the danger; it doesn't get rid of it."

Wotruba also noted that allowing concealed carry in gun-free zones such as schools could make the ability of police officers to respond to mass shooting situations more difficult in that they will first have to identify who is or is not carrying before trying to figure out which direction a shooter went or who it could be. All of that takes time away from their ability to act quickly in such a situation, he said.

Slightly more than an hour of testimony was permitted, but before everyone who wished to speak was able to, the committee voted 4-1 to report the bills as substituted and with amendments to the full Senate floor for consideration. Sen. Steve Bieda (D-Warren) opposed the bill.

It is not yet known how quickly the bills will be taken up by the full Senate. MASB opposes these bills, along with most of the education community.  We urge you to contact your State Senator and share your thoughts and concerns about this proposal.

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Sources: Bill Allowing Concealed Guns, Ending Open Carry In Gun-Free Zones Clears Senate Panel, Gongwer Volume 54, Report 203, Article 2, Oct. 13, 2015.

Michigan Senate Panel OKs Concealed Weapons in Schools, Detroit Free Press, Oct. 13, 2015.