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Original article URL: http://bridgemi.com/2012/12/gun-bill-questions-go-unanswered/

Public sector

Gun bill questions go unanswered

Why?

Why would a young man enter a school and kill 20 children and the adults who sought to protect them? What, if anything, can be done to stop America’s recurring nightmare with public massacres at the hands of crazed shooters.

Those are nearly universal questions across America now. Questions made even more timely in Michigan with new concealed carry legislation now awaiting either Gov. Rick Snyder’s signature or veto.

The legislation’s sponsor, state Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville, worked for months to win approval for the changes that would allow the carrying of concealed weapons into formerly “gun-free” zones such as schools, bars and hospitals. Sen. Green earned his legislative victory literally hours before the Newtown Massacre last Friday.

In response to Newtown, Michigan education groups on Monday stepped up their previous opposition and are calling on Snyder to use his veto. Meantime, gun-rights activists like former state senator and Tea Party activist Jack Hoogendyk point to Newtown as clear reason for more gun freedoms. “ We advertise ‘Gun free School Zones’ so these nuts know where to go to not get shot back at,” Hoogendyk blogged.

On Monday, Bridge reached out to the Snyder administration to propose a Q&A column. Our view: However the governor decides this very hot potato on his desk, citizens on both sides of the issue deserve a detailed explanation. We also proposed a Q&A with Green – an opportunity for him to outline his thinking behind his legislation both before and after Newtown. Both leaders declined our requests, which, admittedly, came with little warning. (Nor did Newtown, of course.)

An aide to Green said Monday that they were fielding only “technical questions” and that the senator had made a statement regarding Connecticut and that they were “moving forward.”

While declining our Q&A request, Sara Wurfel, the governor’s press secretary, did provide a window into the ongoing discussions in the Governor’s Office. She said the governor has concerns about the inability of schools and other public entities to “opt out” of the provision on allowing concealed weapons – a concern that has been exacerbated by the shootings in Connecticut:

“One of the issues that had been raised earlier was on the ability of not just private, but with public entities, and not just schools, but other facilities as well, to have the locals determine (the rules), she said. “This was going to be one of the items that would have a careful review. Then Friday happened.”

Wurfel added that Snyder had directed his team to do a full review of how this would affect mental health issues, school safety issues and a “whole holistic approach.”

Asked why the governor, if he saw a fundamental flaw in the bill, didn’t just veto it and ask the Legislature to begin anew, Wurfel made two points:

* As written, it would change state law that now allows for the open carry of weapons in schools.

* The Legislature, in passing the measure, obviously feels strongly about the issue.

Wurfel added that citizens wishing to share their views with the governor may send a note via rick.snyder@michigan.gov.

Here are the questions we posed to the governor Monday – questions we’ll continue to pose:

1. What do you plan to do with Senate Bill 59?

2. If you favor the bill and are going to sign it, could you walk our readers through how improved gun laws can help deter or stop such events?

3. Specifically, can you outline why you think it is important for people with CCW permits to have the right to carry guns in schools? And, can you outline how you expect that particular provision to play out?

4. Has there been anything reported from events in Connecticut that has affected your thinking on this particular change or other changes you see as necessary to Michigan carry laws?

5. Naturally, emotions are running very high right now. One open letter on Facebook aimed at you on the day of the Newtown tragedy stated: “Please, PLEASE, PLEASE do not sign the bill. As the parent of two small children I am heartbroken as to what happened today. I do never want to be that parent. I never want anyone I know to be that parent. I never want anyone I have not, nor will ever meet to be that parent. And this law would make it possible for that to happen. Please don’t. Just please.” If you had five minutes face-to-face with the writer of that letter, what would you say to her?

7. What, if anything, can or should be done to keep guns out of the hands of the kinds of individuals who have done what they’ve done in Aurora (Colo.), Oregon and Newtown this year? How do we reconcile the freedoms of the Second Amendment with the reality of disturbed, but not hospitalized, individuals in our midst?

8. As you are no doubt aware, public opinion on gun control has been trending toward a reduction in government regulation. At the same time, polling is finding that fewer Americans actually have weapons in their homes. What do you make of these trends, and what, if any impact should they have on Michigan’s carry laws?

Questions for Sen. Mike Green

1. You’ve been working on changes to Michigan’s carry laws for some time. What was the impetus for this?

2. As we all saw last week in Connecticut, gun violence can happen in any public venue. Could you walk our readers through how improved gun laws can help deter or stop such events?

3. Specifically, can you outline why you think it is important for people with CCW permits to have the right to carry guns in schools? And, can you outline how you expect that particular provision to play out?

4. Has there been anything reported from events in Connecticut that has affected your thinking on this particular change or other changes you see as necessary to Michigan carry laws?

5. Naturally, emotions are running very high right now. Consider, for example, this letter to Governor Rick Snyder posted on Facebook on the day of the Newton tragedy: “Please, PLEASE, PLEASE do not sign the bill. As the parent of two small children I am heartbroken as to what happened today. I do never want to be that parent. I never want anyone I know to be that parent. I never want anyone I have not, nor will ever meet to be that parent. And this law would make it possible for that to happen. Please don’t. Just please.” If you had five minutes face-to-face with the writer of that letter, what would you say to her?

7. What, if anything, can or should be done to keep guns out of the hands of the kinds of individuals who have done what they’ve done in Aurora, Oregon and Newtown this year? How do we reconcile the freedoms of the Second Amendment with the reality of disturbed, but not hospitalized, individuals in our midst?

8. As you are no doubt aware, public opinion on gun control has been trending toward a reduction in government regulation. At the same time, polling is finding that fewer Americans actually have weapons in their homes. What do you make of these trends, and what, if any impact should it have on Michigan’s carry laws?

17 comments from Bridge readers.Add mine!

  1. Mike R

    The cynic in me thinks Governor Snyder is delaying a decision on the gun bill until the storm blows over and he can cater to his radical right brethren outside the spotlight. The optimist in me hopes that he is sincerely pondering the implications of this back-to-the-future march toward the Wild West days of universal gun-toting, gunfights in the streets, and frontier justice.

    The events of last week, in which a survivalist mother legally filled her house with firearms and taught her troubled son how to use them, have clarified in my mind that much of the blame for the tragedy lies at the feet of the NRA and the pro-gun lobby, as over the years they have abandoned reason in favor of zero tolerance for any constraints on who can own what kind of firearm when. The only logical conclusion is that they believe such events are merely the price society must pay to preserve the Second Amendment from any interpretation or modification that would deprive such people of an unfettered right to arm themselves and, by carelessness, inattention, or design, all those around them. To them it is simply “the cost of doing business.”

    I reject that utterly, and I will forever rail against and condemn those who elevate an unchallenged right to keep and bear arms above all other rights under our constitution.

    1. KJC

      The NRA and delusional, wacko musketeers like Jack Hoogendyk relentlessly hide behind the Second Amendment in order to try and create a cultural change where vigilantism is equal to the right to vote in a great and free society.
      The current approach of pleading with the Governor’s to veto this really horrific piece of legislation is all wrong. Line it up with his 10 priorities for Reinventing Michigan, create a dashboard and send it to him:
      1. Create more & better jobs — Gun shows, pawn shops and sporting goods stores are MI’s new growth industry. Definitely the epicenter of high paying jobs.
      2. Leverage our new tax system — Gun shows and pawn shops are now forced to pay taxes. No more “under the radar” economy for them
      3. Reinvent our government — Arm the bureaucrats
      4. Keep our youth, our future here — wouldn’t we want to do everything possible to keep them alive first?
      5. Restore our cities — they currently appear to be well armed according to violent crime statistics. Creates efficiency in gov’t — reduces 10 point plan to 9 points
      6. Enhance our national & international image — oh yeah!
      7. Protect our environment — just like the bottle refund law enact new legislation to encourage people to “police their brass” by putting .15 cent deposit on all magazine cartridges
      8. Revitalize our education system — knowing that every adult in your school could be carrying a concealed weapon will really keep kids alert, energized and ready to learn. Not to mention meaningfulness it will bring to the Sunday School experience.
      9. Reinvent our health care system — best Level 1 Trauma & Triage system in the world
      and
      10. WINNING MICHIGAN through RELENTLESS POSITIVE ACTION — in the esteemed words of Sir Isaac Newton — for every action, there is an equal and OPPOSITE reaction. Therefore, creating more opportunities to pursue violence creates more opportunities for “relentless positive action”.

      This legislation is just plain wrong. Wrong is wrong. You don’t need to have staff review it. Just do the RIGHT thing.

    2. Lawrence Bogner, Sr.

      The murderous activities last week in Newton taught me a few things, or confirmed them. I had no doubt, but it was confirmed in my mind that the wild eyed shouters who so hate the character of this country will go to any lengths to convince the simple and the fearful that the government is their friend. I heard reports that the children were killed with pistols, and a rifle was found in the car. The same day, heard cries from the leftists of the need to ban assault rifles. A couple of days later, I heard that the kids were all shot with an AR-15. Sometimes, I really question the truthfulness of news media, in general.
      There is a part of the constitution called the second amendment. If the folks that are so averse to this part of the bill of rights got their way on the second amendment, are there other parts of the bill of rights they would like to repeal? They are generally devoid of religious convictions, so I wouldn’t expect the first amendment to last long, once the ability to overthrow a tyrannical government was removed. The lapdog press isn’t much of a threat, so it would be pretty safe.

      The difference in the way various groups are reported on is interesting. We have had a significant, albeit small number of children killed at a school, and the popular press, and the usual suspects are absolutely outraged. On the other hand, we have millions of babies killed each year by various grisly means, and those that take exception to such morally bankrupt activities are somehow considered extremists.
      I hve sighted many times the title of a book by Tammy Bruce, The Death of Right and Wrong, and I think such considerations have never been more appropriate.

      1. Mike R

        You hate and distrust everyone but yourself, and your observation that the number of children killed last week was “small” is absolutely heinous and despicable. I pity you and your kind.

    3. dlb

      I too hope that Gov Snyder will veto this absurd bill, although I suspect he will saddle up to his extremist right wing buddies and allow it to pass once all the fuss over CT passes.
      It amazes me that the Michigan GOP legislature can take away the rights of women and workers, but grant absurd freedoms when it comes to weapons. We will remember and we will get them voted out of office.

    4. Hardvark

      Your characterization of the mother as a survivalist has no foundation. Just because she enjoyed the sport of shooting, you make a big assumption. To tie this to the NRA and the pro-gun lobby is totally unfounded. If you have had any experience with raising children, you will know there is no stronger bond between human beings than the bond between a mother and her child. This bond is also a blindfold to recognizing and admitting there is a flaw in this child’s character or mental health. Yes, in the aftermath of the events of last Friday, the mother should or may have kept her guns in a safe or secured from her son. But if she so wanted him to be normal inspite of his obvious mental condition, it is understandable how she had blind trust he would do the right thing.
      There is no easy answers here and to think the elimination of the 2nd Amendment could make a difference has no basis. The City of Chicago has the strictest gun control laws in the nation and yet the homicide rate is on of the highest. Mexico has very strict gun laws and look who is running their country.

      1. Mike R

        The mother and her own friends have characterized her as a “survivalist.” Look it up your facts before you lapse back into the same tired defense of the indefensible.

  2. Edwin Lord

    Dear Sir/Madam:

    The problem today is people tend to resolve issues in a flash or instance instead of thinking thorough for a solution. With a gun it is much easier to pull the trigger in an instance, than chase someone who you are angry with a knife. You are able to impact a large group with a gun in an instance, than with other weapons satisfying your needs with instance gratification.

    There is no absolute answer to this problem as culture differs from state to state. In places of such as Texas/Michigan children are taught to shoot at a young age, however in the cities as San Francisco, and Chicago children are not taught to shoot at a young age. Gun culture could vary from county to county within a state.

    Perhaps it is the time to look for real answers instead of short term solutions to complex problem, or taking a simple solution to a complex problem. Have a forum with public and see what solutions are propose.

    Edwin

  3. Dr. John

    “ We advertise ‘Gun free School Zones’ so these nuts know where to go to not get shot back at,” Hoogendyk blogged.

    Does Hoogendyk REALLY believe this? Or is he a tool of the gun industry? The problem ISN’T that a first grade teacher doesn’t have a pistol to shoot back in a room full of children. It’s that troubled individuals have easy access to guns in the first place. Some people are “law-abiding citizens” one day–entitled to their 2nd Amendment rights–and mass murderers the next. But the NRA, its Republican supporters, and misguided and/or paranoid citizens oppose virtually every limitation on gun access. They often argue that other weapons can be used for the crime. That’s remarkably stupid. On the very same day as the Sandy Hook massacre, a man stabbed 23 children in a Chinese primary school. None died.

    Concerned citizens: stop being passive. Contact the politicians. Boycot the hardware store that profits from guns. Organize your friends. It’s time for action! Don’t let this tragedy blow over, like the many others.

  4. Hardvark

    In the midst of this tragedy, it is human nature to cry out for a simple solution and both sides of gun control will be vocal in expressing their wisdom. The fact remains that the world as we know it is a much more dangerous place than it was 40 years ago and we ask ourselves why this is the case. In the 50’s & 60’s there was more respect for life and maybe that was the result of the “Big War” that so many of our fathers fought in and the national sacrifice that was endured to be victorious. The generations since have pressed for a more liberal attitude and freedom from public condemnation of their speach & actions. The shock factor in outrageous behavior and speach was used to promote noteriety and attention in the media and entertainment industries.
    It is what sells newspapers, magazines, movies & television programing. It has conditioned our population to violence, crude behavior and offensive language. We have learned to ignore or accept these acts and its influence on our children. It is what it is and there is no quick fix or magic law that will make it better next week.
    I wonder if an armed teacher or principal could have made a difference? What we do know is that an unarmed principal who valiantly ran into the path of the shooter ended up being just another victim. The concept of concealed weapons in the school creates as much of a controversy as the original debate for the current concealed carry law. The prediction of mass shootouts in the streets and wholesale slaughter by gun toteing vigilanties never materialized. The responsibility and accountability of carrying a loaded gun on your person is very sobering and those intrusted with that responsibility must take it seriously. The odds of every having to use a concealed weapon are very low and some law enforcement officiers go through their entire careers with out every having to draw their weapon. The real question becomes in the event of a once in a life time tragedy, would you want your children protected by an armed teacher or principal?

  5. Jonathan Ramlow

    School shootings demand and receive our full attention. They induce feelings of grief and rage in the many who are convinced that the heart of the problem is guns and bullets, not mental health issues, since the vast majority of Americans with serious mental health problems are not violent. Second Amendment fundamentalists and other gun-rights proponents seem to respond with various degrees of denial, fear, and irrational attempts to divert public attention away from the guns and bullets.

    These episodes are horrific. The burden of firearm-associated mortality and morbidity is too. Over the last ten years the number of homicides by firearm has varied between 8,000 and 10,000 per year, accounting for more than half of all homicides each year. Suicides by firearm are more frequent; in 2005 there were 17,002. Unintentional firearm associated deaths numbered 789 in 2005. The total butcher’s bill for that year was 30,143.

    Anyone who believes that the answer to our firearms problem is more firearms is delusional and should probably be denied the right to own a firearm on grounds of severe mental illness. If we lived in area infested with rattlesnakes, would we address the problem by importing or breeding more rattlesnakes, and allowing people to carry concealed rattlesnakes on their person wherever they choose to go? I don’t think so.

    Anyone who maintains that the Second Amendment is sacred and immune from interpretation and adaptation is ignorant of history. When was the last time the Second Amendment made possible the overthrow of a tyrannical government in the U.S.? Has the federal ban on private ownership of heavy machine guns, submachine guns, and, and other military weapons been reversed on Second Amendment grounds? Are Second Amendment fundamentalists lining up to join legally constituted militias in their home states, or volunteering to serve in the reserve military until middle age, which is required in countries such as Switzerland (a country without a firearm violence problem)?

    The dismal truth is that these people simply care more about their guns than they do about the lives of other people and their children. They are despicable people who seem to regard the annual firearm death count as an acceptable price to pay for personal firearm freedom, and the victims as just so much roadkill.

    In fairness, it should be noted that those of us who support much more stringent gun laws have no desire whatsoever to deprive anyone of his hunting rifle or shotgun. The Second Amendment would definitely prohibit such an extreme measure, and we are not interested in repealing the Second or any other Amendment in the Bill of Rights. What we want is a general recognition that nothing much will change until military-style handgun and assault rifle owners become willing to give them up for the sake of the general welfare. It wouldn’t be difficult or painful. Quitting smoking or drinking is painful and difficult, yet millions of Americans have managed to do one, the other, or both, for the sake of their personal health and well-being and the welfare of those around them. Smokers and drinkers have also accepted, perhaps grudgingly, the restrictions placed on where and when they may smoke and how much they can drink before driving a car.

    Second Amendment fundamentalists claim that they fear government action to deprive them of any or all of their guns and bullets. Fine. Let’s not have it come to that, shall we? Give up your Glocks and your AK’s voluntarily, and no government action would be needed. How about it? Future generations would see you as heroes and patriots.

  6. Dr. John

    “ We advertise ‘Gun free School Zones’ so these nuts know where to go to not get shot back at,” Hoogendyk blogged.

    Does Hoogendyk REALLY believe this? Or is he simply working for the gun industry? The problem ISN’T that a first grade teacher doesn’t have a pistol to shoot back in a room full of children. It’s that troubled individuals have easy access to guns in the first place. Some people are “law-abiding citizens” one day–entitled to their 2nd Amendment rights–and mass murderers the next. But the NRA, its Republican supporters, and misguided and/or paranoid citizens oppose virtually every limitation on gun access. They often say that other weapons can be used for the crime. That’s a remarkably weak argument. On the very same day as the Sandy Hook massacre, a man stabbed 23 children in a Chinese primary school. None died.

    Concerned citizens: stop being passive. Contact the politicians. Boycot the hardware store that profits from guns. Organize your friends. It’s time for action! Don’t let this tragedy blow over, like the many others.

    1. Hardvark

      Too bad we don’t have the same concern for the 40,000 men, women and children killed each year by drunk drivers. Those drivers are just as ill as the mentally ill yet we, the courts and our government ignore that problem. I guess its all about who’s rights will be infringed upon. Almost everyone has a drink on occasion, not everyone owns a gun. I don’t have one so you can’t have one.

      1. trob

        You have an excellent point. Despite the astronomical death rate due to alcohol, I don’t hear anybody expressing the need to ban alcoholic beverages. Why is it different with guns?

      2. Dr. John

        I’m equally concerned about drunk drivers, as I hope everyone is.

  7. trob

    Its sad to me how people can have such a deep-rooted phobia of guns that it supersedes logical thinking. I’m 42 years old and can only think of one incident where a gunman walked into a police station and opened fire. Despite the violent, murderous nature of so many criminals and their hatred of law enforcement. Think about why an evil lunatic would open fire in a school or movie theater but not a police station. The reason why? There’s ONE reason: the criminal element knows the cops are ARMED!!! the psychos who commit these horrendous murders pick their victims based on who they think will give them the least opposition. Just like robbers and pretty much every other kind of criminal who sets out to victimize others. People look at the resent tragedy as a call to limit gun rights but to me it CLEARLY shows why we NEED armed, responsible adults in our kid’s schools.

    1. John Q,

      The two police officers killed in Topeka the other night demonstrates how your comments are out-of-touch with reality.

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