Column: School gun bills are bad policy

Ivy Bailey

The Michigan Senate has hastily approved a set of bills that will further place children at risk, whether they reside in Detroit or DeTour Village in the Upper Peninsula.

If passed by the state House and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, Senate Bills 584-586 will allow men and women with a concealed pistol license (CPL) to request a so-called “enhanced” endorsement. The measure would allow them to carry a concealed firearm into gun-free zones, including early education centers, schools, community colleges, and university dormitories and classrooms. Outrageous.

The bills were approved by a Senate committee 3-2, along party lines. Republicans voted yes; Democrats vote no. The Senate approved the bill the very next day.

If this legislation is enacted, to qualify for an endorsement, a CPL holder would be required to obtain an additional eight hours of training and fire additional 94 rounds. It gets worse.

The legislation would prohibit schools from creating policies on firearms that are stricter than federal or state law. Under this bill, a school district could not set its own policies on allowing weapons on school property, unless the person was a student at that school. What happened to the Republican mantra of local control?

Once again, they are bucking their own credo and forcing legislation down to cities, villages and townships from their ivory tower in Lansing. It’s déjà vu.

I’ve taught in classrooms across Detroit and throughout the world. Regardless of the school’s location, a weapon, whether openly carried or concealed, will create a sense of fear. It will only serve as a distraction to the learning process.

This is truly knee-jerk legislation that moved through the Senate in only three weeks. Lawmakers should have toured cities across the state and held evening public hearings at schools, community centers and homes of worship where educators, support staff, parents and others could weigh in and offer their point of view.

Unfortunately, Senate Republicans defeated every Democratic Party amendment that would have made lemonade out of lemons. In fact, GOP members wouldn’t even agree to a provision that would ban sex offenders and people convicted of domestic violence from obtaining CPLs.

Sen. Vince Gregory pointed out that as an armed services veteran and a 30-year member of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, he took a pledge to keep citizens safe.

“Real life is not an action movie,” Democratic Leader Jim Ananich, a former teacher from Flint, stated during the debate. “The reality is you’re much more likely to have an accident in a preschool, in a day care center, in a school (if the legislation becomes law.)”

Detroit Federation of Teachers says often: What’s best for educators is best for students. These school gun bills are not best for anyone.

Ivy Bailey is president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers.