SPS Officials Drop Discussions On Adopting Gun-Free-Zone Policy For Local Schools
To have a local public schools’ policy prohibiting firearms on the premises is a moot point if current Michigan law does not explicitly designate schools as gun-free zones (police and armed forces would be the exception), say Saugatuck Public Schools’ (SPS) officials.
“We have decided to drop any further policy discussion on this topic because it does nothing to close the loophole for CPL (concealed pistol license) holders to carry a pistol on his/her hip in schools,” said SPS Superintendent Rolfe Timmerman.
“We already have a policy addressing weapons in schools,” Timmerman recently told Observer Newspapers.
Current law allows CPL holders to openly carry (in a holster) a handgun in and around schools. Places off limits to firearms includes courts, churches, hospitals, sport arenas, day care centers, and so forth. However, the law does not apply to schools, argue school officials.
In its attempt to get support behind closing that Michigan loophole, the school district contacted State Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) and Michigan State Rep. Bob Genetski (R-80).
Jones does not support open carry in schools or openly carrying a firearm in public, but he does support an expanded form of concealed carry with new, more stringent requirements.
“Open carry in schools is frightening. I don’t think it’s necessary and needed,” said Jones, who represents Allegan, Barry and Eaton counties.
However, Jones said he supported Senate Bill 59 (SB-59), a controversial concealed weapons proposal vetoed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder last year in the wake of the horrific event at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
“SB-59 expanded the concealed carry but only with extra training; only a small number of persons would have that permit,” said Jones.
“I think a lot of people would be happy with that,” he added. “I don’t believe a lot people would pay for additional training.”
The bill, introduced by Michigan State Sen. Mike Green (R-Mayville), streamlined the permit process and suppressed open carry while only allowing those individuals who received enhanced training to carry concealed pistols in “gun-free zones” or those areas currently forbidden by Michigan law, such as those mentioned above, as well as in schools.
While SB-59 would have placed limits as to who can carry concealed handguns in schools, by virtue of the enhanced training requirement, it would not have unequivocally established schools as “gun-free zones,” precisely what SPS seeks.
“I do agree there is a loophole in the law,” said Genetski. However, he said he was not ready to approve or reject any gun law proposal until it was before him.
“Right now you can open carry in schools, but you can’t conceal carry. Unfortunately, you have some groups stirring trouble by going into schools and making that (open carry) very clear. That is making a lot people uncomfortable,” said Genetski, adding that he and his colleauges will continue to tackle the issue.