Industry-captured lawmakers in Michigan pushed through a bunch of laws to hand out goodies to lobbyists in the lame duck session. One bill they were busy rubber-stamping might not have gotten any attention, but for Connecticut:
An apparent loophole in a gun bill passed during the Legislature’s lame-duck session means public schools would not be able to stop licensed gun holders with advanced training from carrying guns on school property in Michigan. Senate Bill 59 was passed late Thursday by the Republican-controlled Legislature and is on the desk of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who is mulling whether to sign or veto it.
The bill was intended to clarify that “open carry” of guns is not permitted on school properties, while allowing people with concealed pistol licenses and advanced training to carry concealed pistols in places where they normally couldn’t, such as schools and public arenas.
But the law also was intended to include opt-out provisions for schools and other protected places that don’t want any guns, concealed or otherwise — on their premises.
The bill says a private property owner may prohibit an individual from carrying a pistol, concealed or otherwise, on premises listed in Subsection 1. The list in that subsection includes, schools, along with bars, sports arenas and public or private day cares. But public schools don’t have private property owners, so public schools arguably would not be able to use the wording in the legislation to prevent someone with a handgun carry permit and advanced training from carrying a weapon on school property.
Michigan lawmakers (or, the lobbyists who wrote the bill) were careful to protect private property owners from weapons on their premises, but they somehow missed public school children. These are the same folks who want to put guns in your elementary school. Lobbyists for responsible gun owners. Notice the care and elaborate attention to safety they use when pushing laws dealing with their weapons around your children.
So. Who are these concealed carry permit holders that the Michigan governor and lawmakers are inviting to come armed into (public) elementary schools? Are they “responsible gun owners”? Well, we don’t know, and we won’t be able to find out. The Michigan concealed carry permitting and record-keeping system is a mess. The law was written to protect gun owners, not the public. Michigan is a “shall issue” state, where gun boards must approve applicants who meet certain requirements:
Ten years after Michigan made it easier to carry concealed guns, its mandatory process for reporting who has the permits — and who had them taken away — is a shambles. Records are incomplete. Compliance by counties is spotty. Convictions for crimes go unreported. It’s against the law, but there is no penalty.
Those findings stem from an investigation by Booth newspapers into how well officials across the state are complying with mandates to inform the public whether concealed pistol holders are responsible and law-abiding.
That the information cannot be trusted is a blow to the law’s backers.
“We wanted those statistics to prove to the naysayers that what we did was right,” said state Sen. Mike Green, primary sponsor of Michigan’s “shall-issue” concealed license law.
The records are supposed to detail the number of licenses issued and revoked in every county, the number who violate the law, and the judicial outcome. Reporters also interviewed license holders, law enforcement, firearms trainers and state and local record keepers.
Confusion reigns. In some instances, licenses were reinstated after convictions when they were supposed to be revoked. Ottawa County revoked just one license in nine years because of a procedural misunderstanding. Countless other cases are unaccounted for, either because county licensing boards are not notified of the outcome of criminal charges, or they neglect to take action. Revocations are not completed, so they never show up in public reports.
How deep the problem runs is anyone’s guess. Many records are kept secret, and the state has not audited whether the process is working. Meanwhile, the number of permit holders is skyrocketing.
That ended 10 years ago this week — July 1, 2001 — when Michigan joined a growing number of “shall issue” states where gun boards must approve applicants who meet certain requirements.
More than 50,000 permits were issued the first year. License holders now stand at more than 270,000, double the number five years ago. The new law required their identity be kept secret. But lawmakers also assured the public they would be kept informed of gun bearers’ behavior.
The law required annual reports detailing how many permits were approved, whether any recipients ran afoul of the law, and what happened to them. So what happens when county prosecutors or clerks violate the law?“ Nothing,” said Theresa Hart, an analyst with the State Police Firearms Records Unit. “There was no penalty written into the law.”
After Connecticut, incredibly, lawmakers are working hard to increase the risk to public school children in Michigan. They know the concealed carry permitting system is a mess. They’re aware of it. They say they will reform the permitting and reporting process, although they haven’t done anything about it for the last ten years. Yet, they’re recklessly sending people with concealed weapons into public schools.
I would urge anyone who is listening to the media celebrity/Republican push to put armed people into elementary schools to take a good, hard look at how lobbyists have gutted gun laws. “Licensed” may not mean much. We don’t know what it means. They haven’t kept records.