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Dec 18, 2012
11:16 AM

OPINION: School Shooting Prompts Concern about Michigan's Gun Laws

As Newtown, Conn. mourns the mass murder of 20 kids and seven adults by an assailant with an assault rifle, a local mom wonders how we got here and worries about potential legislation that could make this sort of massacre easier in Michigan

OPINION: School Shooting Prompts Concern about Michigan's Gun Laws

Note: As of Tuesday, Dec. 18, Crain's Detroit Business reported that Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed the legislation that would allow concealed weapons in churches, schools and day care centers.

Twenty children dead.

I don't understand.

I didn't understand last April when an 18-year-old Troy man marched around downtown Birmingham with a rifle slung over his back. He was at once showing off his new rifle and flaunting Michigan's bizarre Open Carry Law. Birmingham police stopped him, demanded ID and arrested him for creating a disturbance and brandishing a dangerous weapon.

Good, I thought. If I had seen him, especially if I'd been shopping with my children, I would have been terrified. I would have called the police.

But his little stunt turned out to be perfectly legal. And many people came to his defense. People demonstrated against the police for stopping him! They said the police had over-reached. They demonstrated with their guns. Few had a bad word for the man.

I don't understand.

On Friday, Dec. 14, I drove to work and heard the news about the Michigan legislature burning the midnight oil until 4:30 a.m. to pass all manner of bills that most voters are against. Few of the moves surprised me. Except for one I didn't understand. The Michigan House and Senate had passed a bill that would further loosen gun restrictions. Why? It's not enough that people can waltz around shopping districts with rifles, apparently. Some folks are insulted that firearms aren't welcome everywhere, including schools, hospitals, day care centers and churches. So they encouraged our lawmakers to allow guns into these places.

Did our legislators pass these bills in the light of day? No, because the vast majority of us disapprove. So our "leaders" voted yes to more guns in public, more guns in safe zones, more guns near children. They voted in the dead of night. In the dark. Behind closed doors.

I wasn't surprised about the various ways their votes were taking away my freedoms in the name of small government. But the push to bring more guns into schools and churches truly shocked me. What were they thinking? Hearing it on the radio on my way to work I shuddered at the thought. My girls were in their schools – schools I rely on to keep them safe. I wondered if Gov. Snyder was actually going to sign the new legislation into law.

By midday, there was more news about guns in schools. Horrific news.

My phone started to jingle with text message reports of a school shooting somewhere in America. De-sensitized to this common occurrence, I shook my head with something like annoyance and kept working. A half-hour later, my phone buzzed repeatedly with reports that 18 children had been shot to death in their Newtown, Conn. elementary school. Then word came that it was 20 children.

Twenty children, first-graders, were dead.

I don't understand.

Amid the shock and calls for gun control, I know what I'll hear in the days to come – support for guns. Don't bother to write to me. Don't bother to try to convince me that those concealed weapons will prevent shootings like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Have you seen the guns the man used to kill 27 people? Behold a .233 caliber rifle, just one of the three weapons the man used. All were purchased legally.

How is a pistol in the janitor's sock going to protect a school full of children against assault weapons? Or must we expect schoolchildren to pack heat in their lunchboxes? I'm serious. Is that where we're headed? Do we have to send our children to school with guns to protect themselves because we don't have the courage to decrease the number of guns in our society? Trust me, our problem is not a lack of firearms. And arming everyone isn't going to make the number of gun-related deaths go down.

When are we going to DO something? How many obscene rampages like this can we endure?

I don't want any guns in my kids' schools. Guns brandished by "good guys" can be just as dangerous as those carried by bad guys. And they can be found and used by children.

I want gun-free zones. And I want Gov. Snyder to veto any law that allows guns in my kids' schools. I have to wonder: Will he sign the concealed weapon bill into law now that 27 innocents were killed Friday? What if it hadn't happened? And what is our newly unpredictable governor going to do next week? Will he allow concealed guns in our schools? Tell him what you think by going to the governor's official opinion page.

When I came home Friday night, my girls didn't know what had happened in Newtown, Conn. The schools hadn't discussed it. They sent email messages recommending we tell them, with advice on how to explain to our girls – ages 9 and 11 – that kids their ages were shot to death in their sweetly decorated classrooms a few states away by a man brandishing three semi-automatic weapons. Weapons built to kill people by the dozens. To kill children by the dozens.

The schools advised us to tell our children that schools are safe places, in spite of the evidence to the contrary. They advised us to encourage our children to report suspicious people to their principals or to the police, even though it's perfectly legal, in Michigan, to walk around holding a rifle.

I don't understand.

I told my older daughter about the massacre while we were walking the dog. She gasped and asked immediately, "Why can people get guns, mom? How can they get into schools? Why did that happen?"

And I found it difficult to explain, because I simply don't understand.

– Sharon MacDonell is a mother of two living in Troy, Mich. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of MetroParent.com or Metro Parent Publishing Group.

Old to new | New to old
Dec 19, 2012 11:56 am
 Posted by  mustdefendourselves

Newtown shows that "safe zones" are not so safe. If one person in that school had been armed those precious little children would have had a chance. CT has some of the strictest guns laws in the nation. That only takes away weapons from the good guys. Criminals, crazies, whatever do not follow laws, only us good citizens do. We SHOULD do all we can to keep weapons out of the hands of the bad guys. However we NEED the good guys to be able to protect ourselves. The police cannot be everywhere and even they will tell you they cannot protect you from crime. You have to protect yourself. An armed society is a polite society. Simply look at the facts since the CCW laws gained momentum in the past 20 years. It is no wonder when a bad guy wants to do maximum damage they go to theaters, schools and churches. Why? They know there will be no return fire. The victims are sitting ducks. Law abiding citizens disarmed at the door. Evil is all around us. As much as we wish to think it is not and being able to protect ourselves is not necessary.

Dec 20, 2012 06:58 am
 Posted by  Learn from history

Let me help you understand. Taking guns away from the citizenry won't prevent tragedies like this from recurring. This young man was mentally ill. His mother was trying to get him the help that he needed but he acted before that process could play out. He attempted to purchase a firearm and was denied. That law worked. He chose to steal weapons and kill his mother before heading to the school where she had done volunteer work. He was ruled by hate, jealousy and evil. There is no law that would have made a difference to him. The only thing that stops a murderer like him is good guys with guns. In this case it was the police who could not get there soon enough. If someone at that school had been trained for this situation, those children would have had better protection. Of course, guns on school would have to be under lock but that still provides a quicker response than someone coming from off the grounds. As it was, the adults there made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the children with the only defense they had.

Gun control only disarms law abiding citizens putting us at greater risk. Criminals will always find a weapon. One of the worst school massacres in U.S. history happened in 1927, when former school board member Andrew Kehoe set off three bombs in Bath Township, Michigan killing 45 people and wounding 58. Kehoe killed himself and the superintendent by blowing up his own vehicle.

It's understandable to be angry about these senseless acts of violence but don't think that banning guns will magically make us safer. There are no easy answers. There will always be threats to our security. The police can't do it all, we have to take responsibility for our own protection, too.

Dec 21, 2012 12:16 pm
 Posted by  Not an easy answer

There are many issues that need to be ironed out if you are allowed to carry on a school campus (i.e. where the gun will be stored, whether it will be loaded, if there will be stricter training required than just a CCW), there's no doubt about that. Would I rather live in a society that has no need of guns? Absolutely. But that will likely never happen, and meanwhile we have our most vulnerable citizens being targeted by lunatics. We either need increased police/security presence in schools, or we need willing faculty who are exceedingly well-trained in using a firearm and responding to threats. There are many, many questions to be addressed about how to do this safely, but I'm unsure of exactly what else can be done. I feel that this law, if implemented carefully and thoughtfully, might make people think twice about targeting schools, churches, malls, etc. But none of us can know that for sure, which is always the issue.

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