Michigan Senate committee approves bills that would allow concealed guns in schools, churches

Michigan Senate committee approves bills that would allow concealed guns in schools, churches
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Bills approved Tuesday by a Michigan Senate committee would allow concealed guns to be carried in schools and churches.

The three-bill package was passed by the Senate Government Operations Committee, with Republicans supporting it and Democrats opposing it, according to USA Today.

It would let gun owners take their weapons, if concealed, into gun-free zones. These areas include schools, churches, day care centers, bars, dorms and stadiums.


The bills come after 26 people were killed this past weekend when a gunman opened fire at a church in Texas. It also follows the Las Vegas shooting, in which more than 50 people were killed at a country music festival in October.

The state's Senate majority leader said the recent shootings demonstrate the importance of this legislation, USA Today reported.

"Some have said it’s insensitive to bring up these issues now, but I feel quite the opposite," state Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R) said.

"The recent events will allow us to look at how we can deter those who want to do harm. And responsible, well-trained, licensed concealed-pistol holders can be one of those deterrents," he said.

The executive director of the Michigan Association of School Boards, though, said the change could result in more "accidental incidents."

"Tragedies are going to happen. But we're concerned this change could create more accidental incidents and the additional training doesn’t come close to training an individual for high-intensity situations," Don Wotruba said.

"Unless you’re trained for a military or police perspective, you're not well-trained," he said.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has not yet seen the legislation, his spokesperson said.

Meekhof said the governor is "not necessarily" in support of the bills.

The bill would let schools decide to not allow students to carry concealed weapons in school and could be amended to also let schools prohibit employees from carrying the weapons.

It also gives private businesses the opportunity to call themselves "gun-free zones."

"We’re not going to pre-empt a private property owner's right to post for a weapon-free zone," said Meekhof's spokeswoman, Amber McCann.

The bills could be up for a vote in the state's Senate as soon as Wednesday. Republicans hold the majority in the chamber.

State Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D) said the bills would make the state "less safe."

"I’m not sure what’s worse, the bills or the insensitivity of what just happened over the weekend. We haven't even buried those individuals in Texas yet," he said.

"And we're talking about making it less safe," he warned.

In the wake of the recent mass shootings, many Democrats have called for gun control legislation. President Trump called the recent shooting in Texas a problem with the shooter's "mental health," not a "guns situation."