Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed a controversial bill today that would have allowed gun owners to carry concealed weapons in schools, day care centers, churches and stadiums.
Senate Bill 59 permitted gun owners who receive additional hours of training to carry their weapons in formerly gun-free areas. We discussed the bill on the blog as it generated strong opposition from school boards and teachers’ groups, including the American Federation of Teachers.
“Firearms have absolutely no place in our schools—the Dec. 14th tragic massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., is a chilling and heartbreaking reminder of this. Twenty innocent young children have been robbed of their lives, many shot multiple times. Six public servants, who were trying to save these children, were murdered in an environment that should be considered a safe sanctuary for students, educators and school visitors,” wrote Randi Weingarten, AFT president, and David Hecker, president, AFT Michigan, in a letter to the governor.
In his veto letter sent to the Legislature shortly before 4 p.m., Snyder said the bill had a fatal loophole that didn’t allow for those institutions to opt out of the new legislation and prohibit weapons from their buildings.
“I believe that it is important that these public institutions have clear legal authority to ban weapons from their premises,” he said. “Each is entrusted with the care of a vulnerable population and should have the authority to determine whether its mission would be enhanced by the addition of concealed weapons.”
The veto comes just four days after a horrific shooting in Newtown, Conn., in which a heavily armed 20-year-old muscled his way into the Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 20 children and six adults.
Snyder’s office wasn’t immediately available to comment on his actions with the bill, but he came under intense pressure in recent days from religious, medical and education groups to veto the bill. President Barack Obama called on the nation to take definitive action to ensure that no such tragedy happens again.
The bill passed late Thursday in the final hours of a frenetic lame-duck session, in which all sorts of controversial legislation was passed and sent to Snyder.
As soon as word leaked out that Snyder planned to veto the bill, groups opposed to the legislation lauded the governor for his action. “Gov. Snyder is making the right call by rejecting this dangerous legislation,” said Zack Pohl, executive director of Progress Michigan. “This is a victory for school safety and common sense. We need more math and science teachers in our classrooms, not more guns. Snyder deserves credit for finally standing up to the extreme forces in his own party. Now it’s time for Lansing politicians to get their priorities straight and start working together to create jobs and improve education.”
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog