The Michigan state Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that allows licensed gun owners to carry in places that do not allow weapons.
With eight extra hours of training, people with concealed weapons permits would be allowed to carry in churches, schools, stadiums, day cares, concert halls, bars, hospitals, and other places that under current law are designated gun free.
The series of bills were sent to the state House for consideration. While Republicans control both chambers, passage of the legislation is not certain as Republican Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed a similar plan in 2012.
The legislation would give privately-owned businesses the right to remain gun free, however. And current law still allows school districts to have a say over whether guns would be allowed in schools.
A Republican spokeswoman said school districts would be authorized to prevent their teachers and other employees from bringing a gun into a school building under an existing law, though a Democratic spokeswoman said the matter should be clarified. The legislation also would make property owned by public airport authorities pistol-free zones unless a gun owner has the additional training. (The Chicago Tribune)
Opponents said the legislation could bring about accidental shootings, and argued that only law enforcement or security officers should be able to carry in public places like day cares and schools.
"Real life is not an action movie. 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 bill becomes law, Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich, said during the debate.
But Michigan Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof said the measure, which he sponsored, is needed after recent mass shootings in Las Vegas and Texas.
"I believe citizens have the right to be free and safe and secure and to defend themselves and their loved ones," he said. "Responsible, well-trained, licensed gun owners may be one of those deterrents to those individuals who seek out gun-free zones as opportunities to commit heinous crimes."