A Michigan Senate panel approved legislation on Oct. 13 that would allow concealed weapons in schools and other places in which concealed weapons are currently forbidden, reports Detroit Free Press.
Currently, Michigan law does not allow holders of gun permits to carry concealed pistols inside designated gun-free zones, according to Michigan Live. The law does not prevent permit holders from openly carrying those weapons in the same places. This has often led to fierce legal battles over the right to “open carry” in places such as schools, universities and libraries.
Senate Bills 442 and 561, passed on Oct. 13 by the Senate Judiciary Committee in a 4-1 vote, would swap the existing rules regarding open and concealed carry. The bills would prohibit open carry in regulated public venues but would allow permit holders to seek an exemption to carry a concealed weapon.
The bills still need to pass a Michigan Senate vote and be signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder, who vetoed a similar law in 2012.
Republican Sen. Mike Green from Mayville, Michigan, who sponsored the bills, said he believes the open carry of weapons is disruptive in a school environment, but accepts concealed carry as a compromise, reports Fox 2.
"This is what the superintendents are asking for. Don't forget, we have the right to carry in the gun-free zones today. The only thing I'm proposing is we change it a little bit so people can still carry, yet not open," Green said.
Fletcher Spears III, superintendent of Clio Area Schools, agreed with Green and testified that he supported the bill package.
"I adamantly oppose pistol-free zones," Spears said, adding he believes they only provide opportunities for sick people and mentally ill people to commit suicide while taking others with them.
Other Michigan educators disagree with the legislation, and argued that firearms should only be carried in schools by trained law enforcement officers. Many were not happy with the result of the vote.
"I think you're bringing a weapon that can harm others into an environment where if kids have access to them, even [by mistake], it creates a safety hazard for students," said Don Wotruda of Michigan Association of School boards.