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Wednesday, January 23,2013

Gun limits

Schor seeks open carry ban in schools, other gun-free zones

by Kyle Melinn
President Barack Obama last week laid out what were reportedly “the most expansive gun-control policies” in generations. In Lansing, state Rep. Andy Schor is preparing to introduce his own gun control proposal that would tighten Michigan’s rules for openly carrying guns.

During the taping of the “City Pulse Newsmakers” TV show last week, Schor, D-Lansing, said he’s reintroducing former Rep. Joan Bauer’s bill from last session to ban concealed weapons in libraries. Bauer’s bill was in response to several incidences of individuals openly carrying guns in the Capital Area District Library’s downtown branch. One instance involved a shotgun.

But Schor is taking it a step further. He wants to eliminate the ability for licensed gun owners, or anyone but law enforcement, to openly carry guns into schools or any other places that don’t allow concealed weapons. That lists includes childcare centers, sports arenas, bars, churches, large entertainment venues, hospitals and university classrooms. Under state law, those licensed to carry concealed weapons can still openly carry in these places, even though they cannot carry concealed.

Schor said he knows he’s going to get heat from the National Rifle Association and its allies, but as a gun owner himself, the freshman said more guns in schools are bound to create more trouble.

Gun advocates argue that armed teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last month may have stopped gunman Adam Lanza before 26 were killed.

“That’s the argument. I just don’t buy it,” Schor said. “If the teacher pulls a gun out of his desk and starts shooting, that’s more bullets flying around.” There’s also the possibility of that teacher dying, leaving one more gun on the ground, Schor said.

Last month, Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed legislation that would have eliminated the ability to open carry in schools, but would have allowed individuals to carry concealed weapons in those locations. Snyder had wanted these public entities to be able to opt out of this requirement, but potential conflicts with other laws prevented this amendment from making the final version.

Steve Dulan, the attorney for the Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners, said he doesn’t think the concept behind Schor’s proposal is “very logical.”

“I call this type of legislation the creation of mass murderer empowerment zones,” Dulan said. “When you establish, in law, a place where law-abiding citizens are not allowed to bring weapons for self defense, you are creating a magnet for these mass killers.”

Dulan noted that “guns are a fact of life” and that in countries where the citizenry is not allowed guns — like Australia and Great Britain — criminals still find ways to obtain guns.

He also questioned whether this type of legislation and some of the laws on the books are unconstitutional. Article 1, Section 6 of the state Constitution reads, “Every person has a right to keep and bear arms for the defense of himself and the state.”

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