LANSING - The debate over the right to bear arms appears to be brewing again in the Michigan Legislature.
Three bills were introduced last week that would close a loophole in state law that prohibited people from carrying concealed weapons into gun-free zones like schools and bars, but allows them to carry their weapons openly in those areas.
Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, wants to have a “fruitful discussion” about gun rights in Michigan, said his spokeswoman, Amber McCann. Although his bill wouldn’t prohibit open-carry of guns in schools and other places, allowing concealed-carry could be less disruptive.
“He feels it’s an outstanding issue. The question of being able to openly carry in a school can be disruptive for a learning environment, and permitting concealed-carry could resolve that,” McCann said. “It’s a discussion worth having.”
The bills would allow people to get permits, as long as they got training, to carry a concealed weapon in gun-free zones, and prohibit schools, community colleges and other public bodies from enacting ordinances or rules that would ban guns — although they could ban students from bringing weapons into schools.
The bills have been assigned to a Senate committee that also has a bill that would allow people to carry concealed weapons without having to get a permit. But Meekhof doesn’t think that type of bill would get a signature from Gov. Rick Snyder, who has vetoed other gun legislation.
“We’ve sent bills to the governor about guns, and he’s vetoed them,” McCann said. “It wouldn’t be productive to vote on any bill dealing with (a) Second Amendment issue that is just going to be vetoed.”
Michigan has had a checkered history with gun laws. A similar bill, sponsored by Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville, was vetoed by Snyder in 2012 in the days following the deadly shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut when Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 students and six staff members before killing himself on Dec. 14, 2012.
That bill allowed for concealed weapons to be carried in gun-free zones, but not openly carried. The veto left the existing open carry loophole in place, which caused havoc in some schools, when gun enthusiasts entered a school openly carrying their weapons and causing lock downs in the schools.
Other bills introduced last week:
HB 4970: Eliminate the requirement for a concealed-weapons permit for military personnel. Sponsor: Rep. Michele Hoitenga, R-Manton.
HB 4971: Increase the maximum reward that counties can offer for information leading the arrest and conviction of a suspected criminal. Sponsor: Rep. Tom Cochran, D-Mason.
HB 4972: Provide immunity to people who forcibly enter a vehicle in order to rescue a minor from the vehicle. Sponsor: Rep. Patrick Green, D-Warren.
HB 4973: Exempt information on critical energy infrastructure and cybersecurity-related information from freedom of information laws. Sponsor: Rep. Brandt Iden, R-Kalamazoo.
HB 4974: Create a commission to study the presumed consent for organ donation. Sponsor: Rep. Kevin Hertel, D-St. Clair Shores.
HB 4975: Require training in school districts related to disclosures of assault and sexual abuse. Sponsor: Rep. Kevin Hertel, D-St. Clair Shores.
HB 4976: Provide for alternative tax resolutions before an informal conference. Sponsor: Rep. Jim Tedder, R-Clarkston.
HB 4977-4981: Require school districts to determine and eliminate environmental hazards before buying a site for a school; require certain measures to address indoor air and water quality in public schools and require school districts to undertake energy audits. Sponsors: Reps. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit; Darrin Camilleri, D-Brownstown Township; Henry Yanez, D-Sterling Heights, Robert Wittenberg, D-Oak Park.
HB 4982: Provide for an environmental literacy task force to develop environmental curriculum in schools. Sponsor: Rep. Kristy Pagan, D-Canton.
HB 4983: Revise and require public access to notices of security breach requirements. Sponsor: Rep. Abdullah Hammoud, D-Dearborn.
HB 4984: Allow for the electronic return of absentee ballots by military voters who are serving and away from their home precincts. Sponsor: Rep. Tom Barrett, R-Charlotte.
HB 4985-4986: Revise procedure for disabled veterans to qualify for property tax exemptions. Sponsor: Rep. David Maturen, R-Vicksburg.
HB 4987: Provide for a waiver of fees for state identification cards for veterans. Sponsor: Rep. David Maturen, R-Vicksburg.
HB 4988-4989: Require the state department of talent and economic development to create a registry of employers who relocate a call center to a foreign country and deny state economic development incentives for those companies. Sponsor: Rep. Jon Hoadley, D- Kalamazoo.
HB 4990: Revise registration fees for vehicles owned and operated for nonprofit food banks and food pantries. Sponsor: Rep. Tommy Brann, R-Wyoming.
HB 4991: Exempt compensation an individual receives for wrongful imprisonment from income taxes. Sponsor: Rep. Martin Howrylak, R-Troy.
HB 4992: Establish the start of deer hunting season as the Saturday that’s closest to Nov. 15. Sponsor: Rep. Gary Howell, R-North Branch.
HB 4993: Modify the victim notification related to the release of offenders. Sponsor: Rep. Robert Kosowski, D-Westland.
HB 4994:Provide for a public relations campaign to prevent elder abuse. Sponsor: Rep. Robert Kosowski, D-Westland.
HB 4995: Require the department of Health and Human Services to gather data on neglect and mistreatment of senior citizens. Sponsor: Rep. Robert Kosowski, D-Westland.
HB 4996: Expand notification requirements for guardians and conservators. Sponsor: Rep. Robert Kosowski, D-Westland.
HB 4997: Eliminate the helmet requirement for people 18 years or older who are operating off-road vehicles. Sponsor: Rep. Jeffrey Noble, R-Plymouth.
HB 4998: Expand the penalties for false representation of a peace officer to include railroad officers. Sponsor: Rep. Tom Barrett, R-Charlotte.
HB 5000: Specify additional qualifications for membership on state Natural Resources Commission and update duties. Sponsor: Rep. Martin Howrylak, R-Troy.
SB 575: Change the date of implementation and lower the cost of new motorcycle fees. Sponsor: Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba.
SB 576:Provide for the Department of Agriculture’s rural development fund to determine what projects will be funded. Sponsor: Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba.
SB 577: Designate a portion of US-8 as the Medio J. Bacco Memorial Highway. Sponsor: Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba.
SB 578: Require tax tribunals to determine property tax assessment disputes as to the value of property. Sponsor: Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba.
SB 579: Revise the mark-up on liquor based on distiller’s production amount. Sponsor: Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph.
SB 580-581: Expand the prohibition on texting while driving and add sentencing guidelines for the crime of texting while driving causing death, with penalties of up to five years in prison and $2,000 fine. Sponsor: Sen. David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights.
SB 582: Allow the issuance of license plates, tabs or placards to persons with disabilities upon the determination of a qualifying condition by a physical therapist. Sponsor: Sen. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy.
SB 583 and HB 4999: Prohibit a local unit of government from impleneting an excise tax on the manufacture, distribution or sale of food. Sponsors: Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford, Rob VerHeulen, R-Walker.
SB 584-585: Allow individuals to carry concealed weapons in gun-free zones if the person has received training. Sponsors: Sens. Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, and Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair.
SB 586: Expand the types of local units of government that are prohibited from imposing restrictions on firearms to include school districts, Intermediate school districts, community colleges, public libraries and local authorities created under state law. Sponsor: Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake.