Damn the veto, full speed ahead for more guns in schools!
That may as well be the rallying cry for some Republican lawmakers in Michigan. GOP Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed legislation in mid-December that would have allowed concealed guns on the grounds of schools, churches, and daycare facilities. But State Rep. Greg MacMaster (R) is undeterred. He recently introduced the “Michigan School Protection Act,” which would allow licensed teachers and administrators to carry concealed pistols at school, the Associated Press reports. MacMaster, whose legislation has the support of numerous state GOP lawmakers, told the AP that his bill would let schools decide how to implement on-campus concealed carry policies. The speaker of the Michigan House, Republican Jase Bolger, has yet to embrace the new bill, saying lawmakers need to “take a breath” before moving ahead on the measure. But Bolger has also questioned the wisdom of making schools gun-free zones, suggesting he might be open to MacMaster’s legislation.
On December 13, the day before the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., the GOP-controlled Michigan legislature approved concealed-carry legislation for schools, churches, and daycare centers. Post-Newtown, citizens barraged Snyder’s office with emails and phone calls urging him to veto the bill, which he did. “While we must vigilantly protect the rights of law-abiding firearm owners, we also must ensure the right of designated public entities to exercise their best discretion in matters of safety and security,” Snyder said in a statement. “These public venues need clear legal authority to ban firearms on their premises if they see fit to do so.”
Snyder did sign two other gun-related measures at the time, one streamlining the background check process for handgun purchases and another easing the sale of rifles and shotguns between buyers and sellers in states bordering Michigan. During a recent visit to an elementary school, Snyder sounded bearish on the idea of more guns in schools. “I don’t view dwelling on guns as the big conversation we should be having,” he told MLive.com. “If you look at the tragedy at Sandy Hook and the issues there, one of the big things we need to look at is the issue of mental health, and the issues of how do we help kids that have needs and different challenges in their life.”
MacMaster’s isn’t the only divisive gun bill introduced by Michigan GOPers lately. In mid-January, 13 Republican state senators offered the “Michigan Firearms Freedom Act,” a measure that would exempt guns or ammunition made in Michigan from federal regulations. Michigan joined nearly three-dozen other states in introducing such legislation. The measure is, for now, a purely symbolic one: There are no gun or ammo makers in Michigan.