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5 things you need to know about legislation to allow concealed weapons in gun-free zones

Nov 9, 2017

A set of bills passed the Michigan Senate Wednesday that would allow concealed weapons in gun-free zones such as schools, day cares, stadiums, and churches.

Senate Bills 584, 585, and 586 were passed along party lines – Marty Knollenberg was the only Republican to vote against the motion.

Since the Senate passed the legislation, questions have been swirling.

This is what the bills would do if if they became law:

Create an exemption for concealed pistol licenses in gun-free zones

Gun-free zones will still exist. But SB 584 adds an exemption that can be requested by CPL applicants, whether they are applying for an initial license or a renewal.

In order to get the exemption, applicants have to complete the standard weapons training already required for a CPL, which includes:

  • safe storage, use and handling of a pistol including, but not limited to, safe storage, use and handling to protect a child;
  • ammunition knowledge, and the fundamentals of pistol shooting;
  • pistol shooting positions;
  • firearms and the law, including civil liability issues;
  • avoiding criminal attack and controlling a violent confrontation;
  • all laws that apply to carrying a concealed pistol in this state;
  • at least eight hours of instruction, including three hours of firing range time

The exemption also requires an additional eight hours of instruction. The bill is not exactly clear about what that additional instruction must include besides there being both classroom and range time, the firing of at least an additional 94 rounds, and a focus on the "training principles" for public premises outlined in the existing concealed carry laws.

Firearm instructors and anyone applying for a renewal can request a waiver the additional eight hours and opt for three hours of review instead.

Change the definition of “local unit of government”

A 1990 law prohibits so-called local units of government from enacting firearm regulations, meaning that cities, villages, townships, and counties cannot override state gun laws.

SB 586 expands that definition to include “a school district, community college district, public library, and any other political subdivision of the state.”

In other words, none of those places can override this bill with their own policies. Although lawmakers did add a provision allowing school boards to ban concealed carry by students.

Colleges and universities, however, have the constitutional right to enact firearms restrictions, so the bill’s provisions do not apply.

Private property owners can still prohibit concealed carry

Although bars and stadiums are included in the bill’s added exemption, the owners of those institutions are allowed to makes rules against concealed carry.

Close the “open-carry loophole”

The current law bans concealed weapons in gun-free zones, but it does not limit the ability to open-carry in those areas.

These bills would simply flip-flop that rule, allowing concealed carry but banning open-carry.

What’s next?

The bills now move to the Republican-controlled House, where they are expected to pass, although not before the Thanksgiving break.

It is unknown whether Governor Snyder will sign the bills, though. In the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, he vetoed legislation to allow concealed carry in schools.