(AP) — The Republican-controlled Michigan Senate on Tuesday began passing legislation to let people with extra training carry guns inside churches, schools and other places now off limits.
The bills were approved by a committee on 3-2 party-line votes, two days after a gunman killed 26 people at a Texas church. The full chamber planned to vote Wednesday. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed legislation in 2012 that would have allowed concealed pistol license holders with additional training to carry in gun-free zones.
“Anybody who wants to exercise their right to protect themselves and have a firearm should be able to do that where they need to,” said Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof of West Olive, a sponsor of the main measure . Gun-free zones, he said, are a “target-rich environment.” He said while he had already planned to hold the hearing this week, the Texas shooting reinforced the need to proceed.
Under Michigan law, it is illegal for the nearly 618,000 people with concealed weapon permits to carry in designated gun-free zones — schools, day cares, sports arenas, large concert halls, taverns, places of worship, hospitals, many college dorms or classrooms, and casinos. However, the law does not explicitly prevent them from openly carrying in those areas, which has led to lawsuits and court rulings.
The current law also gives the leaders of churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship permission to allow concealed weapons.