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An attempt from Sen. Mike GREEN (R-Mayville) to allow individuals to carry a concealed firearm in schools and other pistol-free zones continues to stir up controversy on all fronts prior to its Tuesday hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Click to track bill SB 0442 SB 0442 aims to strike a balance between gun rights activists and groups advocating for additional control by banning open carry, but allowing for concealed carry in pistol-free zones.
Currently, state law allows those with concealed pistol licenses to openly carry guns in schools, but there have been incidents statewide where schools go into lockdown and officials call the police if a person walks in with a firearm, legally or illegally. Supporters argue Green's bill could be a compromise, allowing gun owners to carry without disrupting classrooms or other potentially sensitive areas.
Senate Majority Leader Arlan MEEKHOF (R-West Olive), Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Rick JONES (R-Grand Ledge) and the Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners are among the plan's backers (See “Bill Allowing Concealed Weapons In Schools Up Next Week,” 10/6/15).
But Gov. Rick SNYDER isn't a fan. Neither are many of the state's prominent education groups, who have remained vocally opposed to allowing any guns in school vicinity as lawsuits against Clio and Ann Arbor school districts continue to make their way through court.
Snyder spokesperson Sara WURFEL said Snyder's position remains consistent with his past comments on the matter and that he continues to have concerns with Green's proposal.
“He has concerns about ensuring balancing need to protect rights of law-abiding gun owners with need for institutions to have clear opt-out options and ability to exercise their best discretion for their safety and security,” she said.
There are currently two ongoing legal cases in the state over whether school districts should be able to ban open carry within their buildings.
In one, involving Clio Area Schools, the circuit court judge ruled the district couldn't ban open carry. In another, involving Ann Arbor Public Schools, the judge ruled the district could. Both cases are expected to play out in the Court of Appeals.
Open carry in schools has introduced a host of problems in the school environment, as schools typically go straight into lockdown if a person walks in with a gun, said Julie ROWE of AFT-Michigan. Such instances introduce fear, confusion and chaos and could be avoided if all guns were kept out of schools, concealed or otherwise, she said.
“Schools were designated as weapon-free zones for a reason,” she said. “Schools should be places where teachers are safe to teach and make sure that education is happening.
“We don't need vigilante justice in our schools . . . let's leave that to the professionals to sort out,” she added.
But many of the shooters in recent history have specifically chosen gun-free zones such as schools, churches and movie theaters to carry through their attacks, said Dr. John LOTT, an economist, researcher and gun rights advocate who has studied and written several books on the subject of gun law.
Coming off the heels of a high-profile school shooting in Oregon, Lott said it's critical for states to consider legislation such as Click to track bill SB 0442 SB 0442 and think of ways to stifle future similar mass murders.
If people were allowed to responsibly carry in those locations, he argued that such locations would not be such obvious targets.
“There are so many explicit statements from the killers themselves explaining why they picked the targets that they did,” said Lott, who is scheduled to testify at the committee hearing Tuesday. “They explicitly avoid places where somebody with a gun can stop them.”
That view isn't shared by all of the state's pro-gun organizations. Michigan Open Carry and Michigan Gun Owners have come out against the legislation, arguing that the proposal is gun control by another name.
“By pushing gun owners back into the closet they are able to further their sick mantra unchecked that gun owners are scary and dangerous people whose rights only serve as a detriment to the public,” a statement on Michigan Open Carry's website reads. “Setting a precedent that guns are too scary to be seen is a mistake that will forever haunt us.”
The bill would only make Michigan's open carry laws more confusing and restrictive, turning something that's currently legal into a felony and punishing nonresidents who cannot obtain a Michigan concealed carry license, the groups argue.
But Lott said if the point is to keep a school, other gun-free zones and carrying residents safer, that goal would be best met if the guns were kept out of sight.
“I think the most important thing is to allowed concealed carry -- that way the killers don't know who can stop them,” Lott said. “If you have officers in uniform with visible weapons, they're either the first people killed, the killers wait for them to leave the room before they attack or the killers find another target. It's a similar situation with open carry.”
For the full article, see "Divisive Concealed Carry Reform Bill Heads To Senate Committee", Inside MIRS Today, October 12, 2015.
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The Snyder administration is battling a surge in overdose deaths in Michigan linked to the abuse of pain and anxiety medications — an issue experts say was previously almost invisible to the public outside the families dealing with it.
Later this month, a committee headed by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley will make recommendations for addressing Michigan’s part in what the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services calls America’s “unprecedented drug overdose epidemic.”
Prescription drug and opioid addiction has led to a fivefold increase in drug deaths in Michigan since 1999, a trend that Calley said leaders “must come together to reverse ... before more Michiganders are hurt.”
For the full article, see Gary Heinlein and Joel Kurth, "Snyder officials take on painkiller overdose ‘epidemic’", Detroit News, October 12, 2015.
For another, see Joel Kurth, "Drug overdose numbers often fuzzy in Michigan", Detroit News, October 12, 2015.
It’s billed as the Michigan Lottery’s Veterans Day 50/50 Raffle.
To Philip Marshall of Novi, that means half the money should go to prizes and the other half should go to support veterans.
Marshall was unhappy to learn only 3% of the gross proceeds from the raffle will go to support veterans, through the National Guard Association of Michigan.
For the full article, see Paul Egan, "Who gets money in Vets Day raffle?", Detroit Free Press, October 12, 2015.
As municipalities run into court trouble and other challenges trying to regulate sometimes unsightly or untraceable clothing donation bins popping up in parking lots around the state, a northern Michigan lawmaker is pushing legislation establishing a statewide permitting process.
House Bill 4862 would create the Textile Rcycling Bin Act allowing counties, cities, townships, and villages to require annual permits and more transparency from the organizations behind the bins and would allow municipalities to collect fines from violators. The act would apply to bins hat accept clothing, shoes, books, magazines, or other household items, and not to bins accepting plastic, metal or glass or household curbside recycling containers.
For more information visit Michigan Votes
For the full article, see Tom Thelan, "Bill Proposes Regulations : Permit System, Limits on Number of Clothing Bins Part of Plan", Lansing State Journal, October 12, 2015.
A Flint-area lawmaker says he is filing a lawsuit claiming that the state and city of Flint refuse to hand over documents related to the city's water system switch to use the Flint River.
Rep. Phil Phelps, D-Flushing, announced Monday, Oct. 12, that he is filing the lawsuit to force the city and state to turn over documents he sought under the state's Freedom of Information Act.
For the full article, see Gary Ridley, "Lawmaker's lawsuit claims Flint, state withheld documents on water safety", MLive, October 12, 2015.
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