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Senate Committee Approves Bills Allowing Concealed Carry in Schools—Bans Local Policies

Jennifer Smith

By Jennifer Smith, MASB Director of Government Relations

DashBoard, Nov. 8, 2017

On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Government Operations held a hearing on Senate Bills 584-586. SB 584 would allow an individual with a Concealed Pistol License to request a special endorsement allowing them to carry a concealed firearm into no-carry zones, such as schools, day care centers, bars and stadiums. In order to receive the endorsement, an individual would need an additional eight hours of training and fire an additional 94 rounds. SB 585 amends the sentencing guidelines to reflect this change.

SB 586 would prohibit schools from creating policies on firearms that are stricter than federal or state law. Under this bill, a school district could not regulate if a person could carry a firearm on school grounds, unless the person was a student. The bill does not allow for employee policies, nor for students that are not from the district. The committee indicated that it will make changes to this bill, however, we don’t know what those changes will be.

SB 584 was changed in committee to prohibit the open carry of firearms in the current pistol-free zones unless the person is employed to provide security. Allowing concealed carry but banning open carry is being touted as a compromise to the “open-carry issue” by the bill sponsor, but it is not one we can support. It also states that universities are exempt from the change and can set their own policies, as well as private property owners.

The committee heard testimony for about 90 minutes, including from MASB Executive Director Don Wotruba. MASB opposes the bills based partially on the belief that the decision to allow firearms in school buildings should be decided by the locally elected board of education, not a blanket prohibition by the state.

Our concerns are focused on the safety of our students, staff and others visiting our school campuses. We strongly oppose open carry in schools as it has become very disruptive, but moving to a concealed carry system only hides the danger of a gun on campus. Allowing more guns in schools is not a solution, and places more people in harm’s way including our students.

Even with the most well-intentioned individual accidents happen. With more guns in schools we are fearful of mistakes that could place our children in unnecessary danger. A million-and-a-half students walk the halls of our K-12 buildings every day without incident. This is too big a risk to take with their lives.

SB 586 takes the whole discussion to another level by banning local decisions on whether or not to allow weapons on school property. The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that the current law banning policies more strict than state or federal law does not apply to school districts. This bill would reverse that decision.

The committee approved the bills today on a party-line vote after reading in support from the National Rifle Association, Michigan Open Carry, Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners and an individual; and opposition from more than 25 people and organizations including both public and private school groups, hospitals and nurses. The bills are now before the full Senate and are scheduled for a vote today.

We urge you to contact your State Senator and ask them to oppose these bills and simply close the open carry loophole in our current law.

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