Mich. Governor Vetoes Bill Allowing Concealed Weapons In Schools

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed a bill on Tuesday that would have allowed people with concealed pistol permits to carry guns in schools. He was under widespread pressure to veto it after the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., last week. Robert Siegel talks to Rick Pluta of Michigan Public Radio.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

One response to Friday's attack on the Connecticut elementary school is to consider new gun control measures. A lot of lawmakers are talking about that. Another response is to equip schools to defend themselves, to encourage guns in school. We're going to hear about the conversation around that idea in two states. First, to Michigan, where Republican Governor Rick Snyder has vetoed a bill that would have allowed people with concealed weapons permits to carry guns in schools. The legislation originally passed last week, less than 24 hours before the shooting at Sandy Hooks Elementary School.

And joining us from Michigan Public Radio is Rick Pluta. Rick, first, explain what was in the legislation that Governor Snyder just vetoed.

RICK PLUTA, BYLINE: Sure, it was under this collection of details dealing with concealed weapons. But what captured everyone's attention was this aspect of allowing concealed guns in schools, day cares, hospitals; places where they have not been allowed before.

The governor did sign another bill to make it faster and easier in some cases to purchase firearms. But the other one was the big deal.

SIEGEL: And the relationship between this and what happened in Connecticut is entirely coincidental, I suppose.

PLUTA: Yes. Yes. For the people who are advocates for this, the timing couldn't have been worse.

SIEGEL: Well, what's been the reaction in Michigan toward this legislation?

PLUTA: Well, certainly like the rest of the country, Michiganders were shocked by what happened in Connecticut. And partially related to that, there was this outpouring of opposition to this legislation. It was passed in the waning hours of the legislatures' lame-duck section. And maybe this will place it in perspective. Yesterday, the governor's office had about 6,000 contacts - phone calls, emails, Web messages - most of them opposed the bill. By this morning that number had grown to 20,000, with about 70 percent opposing the bill.

SIEGEL: Rick, tell us a bit about Michigan law and what it says about where guns are allowed to be carried. I gather it's pretty complicated.

PLUTA: It is. This veto maintains the status quo, which is a sometimes confusing patchwork of three different state laws, as well as court decisions, attorney generals' opinion; there's also the Federal Gun-Free Schools Act. One inconsistency: People with concealed weapons permit cannot conceal their guns in schools. But under the law they can carry them openly. Of course, school administrators could object to that.

SIEGEL: You mean it would be legal for somebody to actually, say, hold the revolver in school if they had a weapon, but not to keep it inside a holster?

PLUTA: Exactly. If you had a concealed weapons permit in your purse, you would have to take it out of your purse to carry it in the school.

SIEGEL: Well, do you think supporters of the original legislation may try to revisit this proposal sometime later?

PLUTA: The gun lobby is influential here. Certainly we're a big gun state, but I'd say right now they'd have hard time fighting the wave of public opinion.

SIEGEL: OK, thanks, Rick.

PLUTA: My pleasure.

SIEGEL: That's Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta.

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