The Michigan State Senate on Wednesday approved legislation that would allow concealed carry in “soft target” areas including churches, schools and sports stadiums, but the Detroit Free Press and other news agencies all reported that Senate Democrats voted to keep the public disarmed.
Democrats were joined by Republican Sen. Marty Knollenberg of Troy, but the package still passed on a 25-12 vote.
The vote came just days after a madman opened fire in a Texas church, killing 26 people including small children. He was shot by an armed private citizen outside the church before fleeing, only to die from a self-inflicted gunshot wound about ten miles away from Sutherland Springs, the small community he had terrorized. The armed citizen hit him at least twice, once in the torso and once in the leg, and it has not been announced whether either of these wounds caused the killer to veer off the highway.
All of the places detailed in the legislation are “soft targets.” That is, they are normally considered “gun-free zones” because people are not allowed to legally carry defensive firearms on the premises. These places include schools, churches, day care centers, sports stadiums and bars.
Democrat Sen. Curtis Hertel of East Lansing declared, “We should not have to worry about them being a victim of gun violence. Parents should be assured that when we drop the kids off at school we’ll pick them up in the car lane and not in a body bag,” according to Michigan Live.
He was also quoted by the Free Press, arguing that people on the no-fly list should be prohibited from getting a concealed pistol license.
“If you’re too dangerous for Southwest, you should be too dangerous for Smith & Wesson,” he reportedly stated.
The legislation is a long way from becoming law, however. It must still go through House scrutiny, and then there is the possibility that it may not be signed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. He vetoed earlier gun rights legislation following the 2012 Sandy Hook tragedy.
But in the years since that mass shooting, many opinions have changed regarding firearms in schools, churches and elsewhere. Many people have concluded that the police cannot protect them from violent attack, and that they must essentially be their own “first responders.”
In 2007, an armed citizen in Colorado Springs, Colorado stopped a church attack by shooting the gunman in the church lobby. That man had already gunned down two girls in the parking lot. Wounded, he subsequently took his own life.
Armed citizens have also intervened in other shooting incidents, and in the five years since Sandy Hook, many schools have enacted policies that allow armed teachers and administrators as a first line of defense against school shootings. Some churches have also adopted similar policies.