By Derek Melot/Bridge Magazine
School, religious and hospital leaders plan to continue their opposition to pending changes to Michigan’s concealed weapon law this week by asking Gov. Rick Snyder to veto Senate Bill 59.
That bill, passed in the last hours of the recent “lame-duck” legislative session, would allow certified concealed weapon permit holders to carry weapons into schools and other “gun-free zones”, if they acquire extra firearm training.
That change drew plenty of opposition at a House committee hearing last week, while the issue of gun violence in schools has come to the fore in the wake of the shooting deaths in Newtown, Conn.
“Right now, we are working on a draft letter to request a veto,” said Don Wotruba of the Michigan Association of School Boards.
Wotruba said other educational groups probably would be participating.
The Michigan Health & Hospital Association plans its own letter to reiterate its opposition to the bill, too.
“Our position is that we don’t want more guns in proximity to students due to the risk of accidents,” Wotruba said. “Notwithstanding last week, schools are safe places. In Michigan, 1.6 million students come to school and go home, safely, each day.”
A veto request may find a ready audience in Gov. Rick Snyder, as on Monday, Snyder said he had concerns about the ability of public entities to “opt out” and still bar concealed weapons, according to the MIRS capital news service.
“It was about making sure that there would be some ability for no guns to be allowed at some level. That was important to me,” Snyder told MIRS. “To say that someone — whether it was local people or at some level someone — could say, ‘We don’t want them here’ and it would stick.”
MASB, the Catholic Conference, the United Methodist Church and the hospital association were among those who testified or issued a statement against SB 59 in committee last week.
The House Natural Resources, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation also received testimony or statements of support from gun-rights advocates and the Michigan United Conservation Clubs before advancing the bill to the full House.