Guns in schools bill picking up speed

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Everytown, a non-partisan, nonprofit organization that tracks violence found that between 2013 and 2015, there were at least 160 gun-related incidents in schools.

One side of the aisle believes increased gun laws and restrictions would solve this issue. Another believes allowing guns in schools is a viable solution.

The Michigan Senate passed SB 585-586 in early November, that said residents with a concealed pistol license could carry guns in areas previously off-limits, such as schools, day care centers, stadiums, churches and college dorms.

The vote was on partisan lines, with all but one Republican voting in favor of the bill.

The State Board of Education tried to take a stance on the issue. Casandra Ulbrich, co-president of the board, proposed that the board issue a statement critical of the legislation. That was defeated when the Republicans on the board abstained from the vote.

“When someone carries a gun onto a campus you don’t know if they are the good guy or the bad guy, so the first instinct is to lock down,” said Ulbrich.

This new bill will allow anyone who takes an extra eight-hour course to have a concealed weapon at schools, religious institutions, bars and college dorms.

Ulbrich’s attempt to get the board to take a stance on this issue, as they did in 2015, was halted by partisanship; the board is split in half between Republicans and Democrats.

Something she thought would bring them together was the fact this bill could take away local power.

“It takes away local control, and it takes away a school district’s right to pass policy that works for their area,” Ulbrich said.

One argument in favor of the legislation is that having someone with a gun at school could deter a possible mass shooter or similar situation. Ulbrich disagrees: “What happens if you’re shooting at the bad guy and the police come in. How are they going to know who is who?”

She stressed that, around children, accidents seemed far more likely.

“What happens if you accidentally leave your gun somewhere and a child gets a hold of it?” she asked. “There’s no malice, but someone still gets hurt.”

David Crim, spokesman for the Michigan Education Association, said the MEA vehemently opposed the bill.

“We’re keeping track of this by the hour … we think that they are going to hussle it through, and it will be a one day story, basically saying ‘guns are allowed, happy holidays,’” Crim said.

He also stressed that out of the 30 groups that spoke on this bill, only one was in favor: The NRA.

The Senate did not move on the bill before adjourning for the holidays.

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