SIDNEY — Rep. Rick Outman, R-Six Lakes, had mixed feelings when discussions during Monday’s Legislative Luncheon turned to the topic of a controversial concealed weapons bill that was passed by the House and Senate.
Having voted in favor of the bill last week, and with it awaiting a signature from Gov. RIck Snyder, Outman said now was not the time for political discussion in the wake of the school shooting that occurred last Friday in Newtown, Conn.
“Another law that is probably really weighing on everybody’s mind’s right now is the conceal to carry law that passed, because of what happened in Connecticut,” Outman said. “I’m sure it’s on the forefront of everyone’s mind.”
That law, which reached Snyder’s desk Tuesday afternoon, was vetoed by Snyder, who called for a more comprehensive review on the issues related to gun violence.
“This type of violence often leaves society with more questions than answers,” said Snyder of the tragic events in Newtown, Conn. “The reasons for such appalling acts usually are numerous and complex. With that in mind, we must consider legislation like SB 59 in a holistic manner. While the bill’s goal is to help prevent needless violence, Michigan will be better served if we view it through a variety of lenses. A thoughtful review that examines issues such as school emergency policies, disenfranchised youth and mental health services may lead to more answers and better safeguards.”
Under existing law, people may openly carry guns in those and other locations, but not concealed weapons.
Outman, who brought up the topic himself at Monday’s luncheon, said he was still in disbelief about the actions that occurred in Connecticut.
“Where do you even begin with something like that?” Outman asked. “I can’t imagine, as a parent, going through a situation like that.”
Not wanting to disrespect the victims and and community of Newtown, Outman did not go into detail about his position on the bill, but did describe how the bill would have changed gun laws in Michigan.
“I don’t want to make this a political thing,” Outman said. “Right now that community just needs to heal and they need our prayers and support. But what I can tell you is that the day before that happened we did pass a new law, the conceal to carry law, and it is one of the strictest in the nation, though it did open up the ability to carry concealed weapons in places we hadn’t previously been allowed to do that such as libraries, churches and schools. “
Snyder’s veto was primarily based on the bill’s failure to let designated public entities such as schools, day care centers and hospitals opt out of the new concealed carry provisions. Currently, Michigan law does not prevent a concealed pistol license holder from openly carrying a pistol in these zones.
Snyder had urged that SB 59 be modified to more significantly restrict pistols in those zones by prohibiting open-carry in such places, in exchange for allowing only concealed pistols to be carried if license holders receive additional training subject to the right of the property owners to prohibit concealed carrying if they desire. Under the bill as passed, only private venues can opt out, as can college universities with constitutional autonomy.
“While we must vigilantly protect the rights of law-abiding firearm owners, we also must ensure the right of designated public entities to exercise their best discretion in matters of safety and security,” Snyder said. “These public venues need clear legal authority to ban firearms on their premises if they see fit to do so.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.