Campus gun bill issues debated

LANSING — A bill that would allow students to carry guns into classrooms and dormitories was the subject of a Michigan Senate hearing held this week.

The hearing, chaired by Sen. Wayne Kuipers (R), was intended to allow state senators to hear opposing sides of the bill and to address any questions and concerns.

Sen. Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) said in his introductory testimony that he introduced Senate Bill 747 six months ago and thinks that some people need more clarification on what the bill would change.

“I’m hoping that some of the testimonies today, and some of the questions and answers, would help to clear up some of the misconceptions that are out there,” Richardville said.

He also said unless a college campus has banned firearms entirely from the premises, a concealed weapons carrier can walk anywhere on that campus but would not be able to put their firearm anywhere before they step into a classroom.

“When you get to the classroom, there is no place for you to put your concealed weapon. We think that was an unintended consequence of the law that was passed in 2002,” he said.

MCCC currently has a policy banning all firearms from its campus.

Dr. David Nixon, MCCC president, and Mike Hansen, president of the Michigan College Association, testified against the bill. Both said they want the individual community college’s Board of Trustees to decide the concealed weapons policy.

“What we would like at Monroe County Community College is the opportunity to decide that for ourselves, from our Board of Trustees who set policies for the college,” Nixon said.

Nixon also said he was happy to hear that Michigan community colleges and universities represented at the hearing are opposed to the bill.

“I was also comforted by the fact that Sen. Richardville assured us that, if this bill were passed, it would not be a problem for MCCC to enact a policy for no guns on campus,” Nixon said.

St. Mary Catholic Central High School student Keenan Wetzel, 17, attended the hearing and is against guns on campus. He said he thought people who testified in favor of the bill were “mirror images of each other.”

“I thought all the people that were gun-toters, as I’ll say, were basically the same testimony. They all just want to carry guns,” Wetzel said.

Wetzel also said the hearing strengthened his views against the bill.

Steven Dulan, attorney and firearms instructor, called on his own experiences as an infantry sergeant in the U.S. Army, among other professional areas, in his testimony supporting the bill.

Dulan describes himself as “somebody who is disarmed by the current policy.”

“There is a logical fallacy upon which the current policy is based. The logical fallacy is that the people who are bent on doing harm are going to obey the rules regarding a pistol-free zone,” Dulan said.

“When I’m lecturing on this subject, I refer to the pistol-free zones list as the mass-murderer empowerment zones list because the only people who are disarmed by the current policy are we law-abiding gun owners,” he said.

Sen. Richardville said he was hoping for some sort of decision or amendment to the bill during the hearing, but the absence of several senators caused any decision-making to be postponed to an undecided date.