In Massacre's Wake, Michigan Governor Vetoes Concealed Pistol Bill

  • December 19, 2012
  • By Jim Malewitz

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has vetoed a bill that would have allowed concealed weapons into schools and other places that are off limits under current state law.

He rejected the legislation just hours after it reached his desk Tuesday (December 18), saying it failed to allow public schools, daycares and hospitals to opt out of its provisions. Only private institutions would have been allowed to make that choice.

“I believe that it is important that these public institutions have clear legal authority to ban weapons from their premises,” the Republican wrote in his veto message. “Each is entrusted with the care of a vulnerable population and should have the authority to determine whether its mission would be enhanced by the addition of concealed weapons.”

The bill was one of several controversial measures — including the so-called right-to-work law curbing union powers — that sailed through Michigan's Republican-dominated legislature in the waning days of its lame duck session.  The gun legislation would have allowed permit holders who received extra training to bring concealed pistols into places labeled “no carry zones” under current law.

Along with schools, daycares and hospitals, that list includes bars and churches. Current law allows permit holders to openly carry weapons into those places.  

The veto comes four days after a mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school shocked the nation, reviving the national debate over gun laws and placing extra scrutiny onto Snyder's decision.

In a press release, Snyder said the assault at Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary, which left 27 people dead, including 20 young children, “highlighted the need for a thorough review” of the bill. But his office said that review was under way before the tragedy.

The governor also ordered a multi-department review of the state's mental health system and its services for at-risk youth.

“This type of violence often leaves society with more questions than answers,” Snyder said of the shooting. “The reasons for such appalling acts usually are numerous and complex. A thoughtful review that examines issues such as school emergency policies, disenfranchised youth and mental health services may lead to more answers and better safeguards.”

Snyder's veto comes as his popularity in Michigan has taken a tumble. On Tuesday, the liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling released polling results showing the governor's approval rating has dropped 28 points since shortly before the election. Just 38 percent of voters said they approve of him, according to the latest poll, while 56 percent disapproved.

Across the border, Ohio Governor John Kasich, a Republican, says he will sign legislation that would allow concealed weapons to be carried in the parking garage beneath the statehouse, despite calls for a veto in the wake of the Connecticut shooting.

“I'm a Second Amendment supporter and that's not going to change,” Kasich told the Cleveland Plain Dealer Monday. “There are a range of issues at play here involving mental health, school security and a culture that at times fails to reject the glorification of violence that can desensitize us to the sanctity and majesty of life.”

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