A recently introduced Senate bill could allow college students, staff and faculty in Michigan to carry a concealed weapon onto campuses and into classrooms.
Senate Bill 747, proposed by Sen. Randy Richardville, R- Monroe, would eliminate Michigan college campuses and dormitories from the exemption list of premises where concealed weapons are not allowed.
MCCC president, Dr. David Nixon, has taken an official stance against the bill.
“It’s absurd; there is opposition to this everywhere,” said Nixon. “It is an issue of appropriateness of having guns on a safe and secure campus.”
Richardville told The Agora the bill is intended to allow people to protect themselves with firearms in an area that has become a target of violence.
“Because these are zones where people cannot protect themselves under their Second Amendment constitutional right, it paints targets on some of those people as easier prey than other places in the community, where people can protect themselves,” he said.
According to Monroe County’s Web site, at least eight hours of instruction, including three hours in the firing range with an official state-certified trainer, is the required training to obtain a concealed weapons permit.
“They can’t have a criminal background, and they have to go through the training, pass the tests, show themselves to be proficient to a certified trainer in at least a one-day, or in some cases, a multiple-day testing period,” Richardville said.
Richardville said he thinks the eight hour course is plenty for someone to be qualified to carry a weapon in self-defense on a college campus.
“Those who receive the training and are authorized to carry concealed weapons should be allowed to protect themselves. One of the few places you cannot protect yourself is on college campuses,” he said. “We are just taking away the exemption that says you’re not allowed to.”
MCCC student and army veteran, Jimmy Frye, Jr. agrees with Richardville’s proposed bill.
“We are a country where it is your right to bear arms. I believe you should have that right to bear arms anywhere and everywhere,” Frye said.
Cherilea Morton, adjunct professor of graphic design at MCCC, is an advocate of the Second Amendment, but feels it’s taken too far with the bill.
“I think it’s wrong. Guns just don’t belong on a campus,” she said.
“Are they for protection? Yes, but at a certain point leave that protection up to the people who are hired to do it.”
Morton also thinks the ability to carry a firearm on campus would lead to issues where students, and even professors, could access those firearms too easily in high stress situations.
“It would be too easy for someone to get upset and pull that gun out of their bag, and then that’s it. That’s not the place for me to stand there and have a gun, no more than it is for my student to have a gun,” she said.
MCCC student and Marine veteran Michael Crossman strongly disagrees with the bill.
“Granting students the right to carry firearms on a college campus is absolutely insane,” Crossman said.
“I am a Marine veteran of the Iraq war and can tell you that when you arm humans with weapons, it only breeds anxiety. It will lead them to react emotionally rather than accordingly.”
Nixon said the majority of colleges in the Michigan Community College Association have taken a stance against the bill. He also said he too is an advocate for second amendment rights, being a licensed concealed weapons carrier himself.
“I feel proficient with a gun; I have a concealed weapons permit. I was also on the police reserves at one time, and bringing them on campuses is just a bad idea.”
Richardville said he thinks the arguments against the bill are derived more from emotions than logic.
“My only problem here is that a lot of people are using emotional arguments versus realistic arguments,” he said.
“All I’m trying to do is say when we talk about the Constitution, when we talk about the second amendment, we shouldn’t make exemptions. Because when we start doing that, the Constitution starts to loose importance.”
Richardville was then asked if he were against all of the current exemptions.
“I wouldn’t say I’m against all of the exemptions, no. I voted for them, that’s why they were in to begin with,” he said.
He went on to explain that, over time he was shown information which helped change his mind.
Richardville also said he is still against lifting exemptions for places like bars and stadiums. But when asked about lifting the exemption for licensed concealed weapon carriers on high school grounds, the same opposition wasn’t found.
“We are going to take it one step at a time. We are going to take a look and see what the universities and community colleges think here.” Richardville said, then explained it’s possible in the future for a revision.
“At this time though, I am not interested in that piece of potential legislation.”
Nixon explained that no matter the outcome of the senate bill, the ultimate decision is made by MCCC’s Board of Trustees. They could introduce a school policy that bans firearms from the property.
“I definitely think the MCCC Board of Trustees would take it up and be opposed to it,” Nixon said.