Michigan Might Allow Guns Into Schools & Churches So People Can "Protect Themselves"
Only two days after a gunman opened fire on a church congregation in Texas, a controversial state-level bill is seeking to allow people to carry weapons in places that previously prohibited it. The shooting in Sutherland Springs led to the deaths of 26 people, including children, but the tragedy in the nation didn't put a pause on a bill that would, if it became law, let people carry concealed weapons in gun-free zones in Michigan. The rationale for the bill, according to its sponsors, is that with guns, people can protect themselves from a similar situation.
Gun violence prevention advocates have strongly criticized the move. As Emily Durbin, a professor of psychology at Michigan State University and leader of the Michigan chapter of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America, told Bustle:
In Michigan's Republican-controlled Senate, the legislation is being sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof. As a strong proponent of the bill, Meekhof stated that the bill would protect people from violence.
"Anybody who wants to exercise their right to protect themselves and have a firearm should be able to do that where they need to," he said. According to Meekhof, the gruesome Sunday incident in Sutherland Springs, Texas, only legitimized the need for the Michigan Senate Bill 584 to pass.
At this moment, Michigan state law prohibits citizens from carrying concealed weapons in nine places: schools, private and public day-care centers, sports stadiums, bars, places of worship, entertainment venues, medical centers, college campuses, and casinos.
A caveat worth mentioning here is that the time only a weapon can be carried in a place of worship like a church, mosque, or synagogue is when the administration of such a center permits it — but that's about it.
If the bill passes, people would be allowed to carry concealed guns in those once gun-free zones. And if a local in Michigan wants to carry a concealed gun, the bill's criterion makes it easy. Meekhof's piece of legislation allows people who have passed eight hours of training to carry concealed firearms in schools, taverns, and the like.
Opponents of the bill say such a condition is inadequate. "I'm not comfortable with that especially around children and someone else's children," Steven McGhee, the school superintendent for Detroit suburb Harper Woods, told local station WXYZ.
The legislative future of the bill seems shaky. In order for the bill to pass, it needs the support of the House as well, as the state's Gov. Rick Snyder. And that's where it gets somewhat uncertain given Snyder's past record — in 2012, Snyder vetoed a similar bill that was proposed right after the Newtown shooting that killed 20 children.
At the time, the governor said: