The tragic shooting in Tuscon, Ariz. has proponents and opponents of gun control laws speaking up. The debate has even made its way to Michigan in the form of new gun control legislation that would lift restrictions on where concealed weapons can be brought. The bill caters to the misguided assumption that more people owning guns will make people safer in an emergency situations. Allowing guns in more locations jeopardizes the safety of Michigan residents. The state Senate needs to eliminate this bill and consider more responsible gun legislation.
State Sen. Mike Green (R-Mayville) had been a sponsor of a bill in 2000 that relaxed permit requirements for concealed weapons. The current bill would overturn restrictions on concealed weapons in hospitals, casinos, churches, schools, college residence halls and classrooms and entertainment facilities with a seating capacity of more than 2,500 persons. The bill was introduced last week in the Senate by Green and is being reviewed, according to a Jan. 26 Free Press article.
There are aspects of the bill that, regardless of one’s view on gun control, are simply dangerous and irresponsible. Allowing parents, administrators or any adult to have a gun on school property could have horrible consequences. The risks of allowing weapons into places where people are drinking, where large crowds are gathered, or both, could be catastrophic. This type of legislation does nothing to protect Michigan residents from potential dangers and creates risky situations where violence against innocent bystanders could be possible.
The argument for revising Michigan’s gun laws is that they conflict with the constitutional right to bear arms. But this logic is flawed and takes gun possession laws to a dangerous extreme. Michigan’s current law banning guns in schools — and other places where gun possession is inappropriate — isn’t in violation of the Second Amendment. Therefore, being permitted to carry a gun in a school isn’t an inherent constitutional right. The proposed bill is creating rights that don’t currently exist and potentially puts Michigan residents in harms way.
In the aftermath of violent, tragic events — like the Tuscon shooting — it can be difficult not to react in an extreme way. Those in favor of gun control are calling for increased legislation limiting where guns can be brought to ensure safety in public places. Those opposed to gun control legislation are calling for — as in the case of the bill proposed in Michigan — fewer regulations on where concealed weapons can be carried to ensure that people can protect themselves. But both of these responses are reactionary, and the aftermath of a tragic event isn’t the time to consider this type of bill. Time needs to be taken to establish safe and effective gun control legislation.
One of the only places where concealed weapons would be banned under Michigan’s proposed gun legislation is in federal buildings, which happens to be where Green works. It’s not difficult to understand why he feels comfortable with a law that keeps his workplace safe. But for Michigan residents who aren’t comfortable with guns in their buildings or on their campuses, more responsible gun legislation needs to be considered.