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Months after MSU shooting, a lawmaker wants to allow guns on campuses | #schoolsaftey


It’s currently illegal to carry a concealed pistol on the premises of schools, day cares and sporting arenas, but one Michigan Republican is looking to make an exemption to that ban should these places reside in a specific place: college or university campuses.

Current state law bans concealed pistol license holders from carrying inside the dormitories or classrooms of a community college, college or university. University boards also have the ability to restrict firearms on campus altogether, with many – like MSU, University of Michigan and Grand Valley State University – already electing to do so.

The law also bans concealed carry on school property, places that sell alcohol, at a public or private day care center, sports arena or stadium, a facility owned or operated by a place or religious worship, hospital or entertainment facility with a seating capacity of at least 2,500.

House Bill 4285, sponsored by Rep. Gina Johnsen, R-Lake Odessa, would amend those rules, however, to allow a person to conceal carry at a place of worship, hospital, daycare or entertainment venue – so long as that space is “owned or operated by an institution of higher education.”

In speaking with MLive on Monday, Johnsen said the impetus for the bill stemmed from the February shooting at Michigan State University, where a gunman killed three students and wounded five others.

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As a mother, Johnsen said she was “horrified at the thought” that both her children or others could not defend themselves with firearms should something of that nature happen again.

“The goal is safety. … We’re inhibiting law abiding citizens from being able to just defend themselves, and they’ve broken no laws, they’ve done nothing wrong,” Johnsen said. “There should be no violation of their Second Amendment rights with the ability to defend themselves in difficult, violent situations.”

That same sentiment is not held by the Michigan Association of State Universities, however, which serves as the coordinating board for the state’s 15 public universities.

Dan Hurley, the organization’s executive director, said while he’s appreciative of the interest in boosting safety on college and university campuses “there’s so many solid reasons for non-support” of the bill.

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“Every higher ed constituency that I’m aware of – students, parents, alumni, employees, faculty, staff … and especially public safety officers do not in any way support guns on campus” Hurley said.

He also panned Johnsen’s argument that more guns on campus would inherently make the area safer, saying that “allowing civilians to be armed only serves to inflame confusion and chaos in the event of an active shooter situation.”

As to why the focus of firearms on campus, Johnsen said it was a piecemeal approach to working on gun policy and was a topic she felt the current legislature could approach respectfully.

Twelve other House Republicans have also signed onto Johnsen’s bill, which has been referred to the Committee on Government Operations.

“I’m all in favor of sweeping changes that would just solve a whole lot of problems, but one thing at a time,” she said. “And, the trauma, the difficulty emotionally, from what happened at MSU? I’m just being very careful to be able to have the conversations that we need to have for safety. And we may need to have them in increments, one bit at a time.”

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