A Michigan lawmaker wants his state to take the opposite approach of South Dakota, whose governor last week signed a bill allowing districts to give guns to teachers and other school workers to improve security. But his push to bar guns in state schools isn’t getting any legislative love so far.
The legislator is state Rep. Andy Schor, a Democrat. His proposal, House Bill 4104, would attempt to close what he says is a loophole in state law that allows people to openly carry weapons in schools. Schor says the state actually allows so-called “open carry,” where you can carry your gun openly for all to see, and that this supposed loophole applies to schools as well as hospitals, sports arenas, and other “gun-free zones” where it is illegal to carry a concealed firearm. To close the loophole, Schor says that guns should simply be banned from schools altogether, concealed or not.
Here’s what he told the Lansing State Journal, which has a clear summary of the situation: “As a gun owner, I recognize the importance of the Second Amendment. But in this case, allowing openly armed civilians to roam the halls of our schools is a recipe for disaster.”
Open carry sometimes doesn’t get as much attention as concealed-carry laws, but it can get brought up by those who view firearms as a deterrent to crime. In this blog post for U.S. News and World Report, a proponent of open carry, John Pierce, notes that criminals are the ones who go to great lengths to conceal their firearms. He added: “Open carriers on the other hand wear their firearms properly holstered and go forth willing to subject themselves to the scrutiny of their neighbors and of law enforcement. They are a visible symbol of law-abiding citizens exercising their rights.”
Pierce wrote that as of last April, 29 states allow open carry without any sort of permit, while only seven states prohibit it.
Schor’s bill, not surprisingly, would exempt law enforcement officers and security guards at school from its ban on open carry. How different would it be for students to see holstered guns on the hips of principals and, say, a parent visiting for a conference with a teacher, as opposed to openly carried guns they expect to see on police officers and security personnel? Would it improve school climate and security, or lead to disaster in many instances?
Michigan recently made news regarding guns and school safety for the wrong reason when, in January, a school security guard at a school in that state accidentally left his (unloaded) gun in a bathroom.
The Journal notes that gun-rights advocates don’t really agree that there’s a loophole in the Michigan law in the first place.
The bill has the support of the Michigan Education Association, which in keeping with teachers’ unions in general has opposed loosening gun laws in schools. But as you can see, since the bill was introduced Jan. 24, there’s been no hearing, no mark-up session, nothing. It’s worth pointing out here that both chambers of the Michigan legislature are controlled by the GOP.
Now, Gov. Rick Snyder, also a Republican, deep-sixed a proposal earlier this year to allow concealed firearms to be carried in schools. His veto came right on the heels of the school shootings in Newtown, Conn. on Dec. 14, so he probably felt an extraordinary amount of political pressure. But that’s no guarantee that Schor’s bill will go anywhere.
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.