The state Senate has passed a flurry of gun expansion legislation, less than one week after 26 people were killed and 20 more injured in a church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
The bills (SB 584, SB 585 and SB 586) would require a person to get 16 hours of training – twice as much as is currently required – to obtain an enhanced license that permits concealed carry in gun-free zones like schools, places of worship, sports stadiums, daycare centers, hospitals, bars and college dorms. Language was also added to allow individuals to carry firearms at airports until reaching airport security.
All of the bills cleared the Senate on a 25-12 vote, with all Democrats and one Republican, Sen. Marty Knollenberg (R-Troy), voting against their final passage. Sen. Mike Green (R-Mayville) – who introduced the last concealed carry bill Snyder vetoed – was absent from session. Governor Snyder recently told MLive that his position on the legislation hasn’t changed.
The concerns and personal stories of each of the Democrats speaking in opposition to the bills varied from having a gun remotely exposed while trying to break up a fight at a school, to concerns over children using their parents’ gun against bullies and how police would spot the fictitious “good guy” instead of the “bad guy” as Republicans had used in their arguments.
Sen. David Knezek (D-Dearborn), a former marine, also said that while these bills required more training to carry in gun-free zones, it was still not enough.
“We require extensive training for our military to increase safety and security. We require extensive training for our law-enforcement officials to increase safety and security. But if someone wants to turn our bars into a Wild West saloon, or if someone wants to turn our classrooms into yet another memorial to lives of children lost to gun violence, it would appear that this legislature wants to you to have at it,” Knezek said.
“And if I learned anything throughout my training, it is that these weapons have absolutely no place around children and they have absolutely no place around alcohol,” he said.
As such, Senate Democrats had proposed several common-sense amendments to the legislation – all of which were defeated – including:
- Prohibiting individuals on the federal No-Fly List from obtaining a CPL;
- Providing state money to cover the increase in liability costs to public institutions who would now be required to allow the guns in their facility;
- Prohibiting people on the sex offender registry list from obtaining a CPL;
- Ensuring the prevention of access to such guns by children by tie-barring the Republican gun bills to a Democrat bill, BLANK;
- Allowing individual exemptions from the new CPL requirements for public institutions at their discretion;
- Placing a sunset on the bill upon the first accidental gun discharge in schools;
- Allowing school employees to be reimbursed from the county Concealed Pistol Licensing Fund for the purchase of body armor; and
- Banning those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from obtaining a CPL.
Among current requirements for an individual seeking a CPL are to be:
- An individual seeking a CPL be at least 21 years of age;
- A citizen of the United States or a lawful immigrant;
- A resident of Michigan for at least six months;
- Not subject to an order or disposition such as a personal protection order, or bond or conditional release prohibiting the purchase or possession of a firearm;
- Not having been convicted of a felony in Michigan or elsewhere, or have had certain misdemeanor violations in the eight years immediately preceding the date of application, or within three years prior to application for other, more serious offenses.
“This doesn’t make any sense to me. As a former teacher, I know that crisis situations are best handled by school security or local police, not a vigilante ‘good guy with a gun.’ No matter the intention, we know an increased amount of guns in schools will lead to a tense learning environment and a serious risk of accidental discharge,” Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) said in a statement following the bills clearing the Senate.
The fate of the bills now rests with the state House, who is likely to pass them, though it is unclear to this point if Governor Rick Snyder will sign them. Snyder has previously vetoed similar legislation after it appeared on his desk for signature within days of the Sandy Hook shooting that killed 20 schoolchildren and six adults in 2012.
The Senate also voted to pass SB 527 and SB 366 to prevent the state from interfering with foster parents having firearms in their homes and to allow adults between 18 and 20 years of age to apply for a CPL, respectively.