LANSING, MI (Toledo News Now) – Calling for a more comprehensive review of issues related to gun violence, MI Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed legislation Tuesday that would have allowed concealed pistol license holders, who completed additional training, to carry a concealed pistol in schools and other places that currently are off-limits.
The governor also ordered a multi-departmental assessment of the state's services and needs regarding at-risk children.
While Snyder rejected Senate Bill 59, he did sign two other bills that streamline the process for handgun purchases and eliminate restrictions on interstate rifle and shotgun transactions to states contiguous to MI.
Snyder's veto primarily is based on the bill's failure to let designated public entities, such as schools, day care centers and hospitals, opt out of the new concealed carry provisions. Currently, MI law does not prevent a concealed pistol license holder from openly carrying a pistol in these zones.
Snyder had urged that SB 59 be modified to more significantly restrict pistols in those zones by prohibiting open-carry in such places, in exchange for allowing only concealed pistols to be carried if license holders receive additional training – subject to the right of the property owners to prohibit concealed carrying if they desire. Under the bill as passed, only private venues can opt out, as can college universities with constitutional autonomy.
"While we must vigilantly protect the rights of law-abiding firearm owners, we also must ensure the right of designated public entities to exercise their best discretion in matters of safety and security," said Snyder. "These public venues need clear legal authority to ban firearms on their premises if they see fit to do so."
Friday's horrific school shootings in CT also highlighted the need for a thorough review of SB 59, though Snyder had committed to give the bill additional scrutiny even before the tragedy, in an effort to ensure that public safety remains a priority.
"This type of violence often leaves society with more questions than answers," Snyder said. "The reasons for such appalling acts usually are numerous and complex. With that in mind, we must consider legislation like SB 59 in a holistic manner. While the bill's goal is to help prevent needless violence, MI will be better served if we view it through a variety of lenses. A thoughtful review that examines issues such as school emergency policies, disenfranchised youth and mental health services may lead to more answers and better safeguards."
The governor's call for a review of Michigan's services and needs include:
• Directing the Michigan Department of Community Health to partner with the departments of Human Services and Education, as well as the State Court Administrative Office and law enforcement, to evaluate systems of care for at-risk children. The evaluation will identify gaps between the various systems and create a comprehensive plan to bolster early intervention efforts to address behavioral, emotional and mental health issues.
• Tasking the Department of Community Health to work with law enforcement and the courts to facilitate regional training to better identify tools that can be used for identifying high-risk youth. DCH also will collaborate with partners to increase mental health awareness efforts, which will include promoting resources available to people in need of assistance.
• Directing the departments of Community Health and Human Services to explore ways to incorporate community mental health workers into the Pathways to Potential model that is under way in schools.
• Requesting the Michigan State Police and Michigan Department of Education review best practices and policies of safe school plans across MI, and help develop a means of greater access to strategies for students to find ways of resolving conflicts peacefully.
• Asking local school districts to offer practical ways to help prevent the introduction of weapons on school property, in order to maintain the sanctity of a safe educational environment for students and educators.
Snyder signed House Bill 5225 and SB 984.
Under HB 5225, sponsored by state Rep. Paul Opsommer:
• The permit to purchase is retained for non-concealed pistol license holders who wish to purchase a handgun through a private, person-to-person sale.
• The Michigan Pistol Database is retained. The database, managed by the Michigan State Police, includes a handgun's make, model and registered owner.
• The process of purchasing a handgun is streamlined. It allows a person to obtain a permit to purchase a handgun at any law enforcement agency, as opposed to just their local police department or sheriff's department.
• Individuals who have a permit to purchase a handgun will now have 30 days rather than 10 days to make the purchase. The bill also eliminates the requirement for obtaining a permit to purchase for all handgun sales that occur through a federally licensed firearms dealer.
HB 5225 is Public Act 377 of 2012.
Under SB 984, sponsored by state Sen. Tom Casperson:
• Restrictions of interstate rifle and shotgun transactions to states that are non-contiguous to MI are eliminated. Currently, MI residents may purchase rifles and shotguns in any contiguous state if they conform to the Federal Gun Control Act and the regulations issued under that Act, and with the laws of the state in which the purchase is made. The bill refers to any state in these provisions, rather than a "contiguous" state.
SB 984 is PA 378 of 2012.
Visit www.legislature.mi.gov for more information on these bills.