By Bryan Noonan
A bill has been introduced by State Sen. Mike Green (R-Mayville) and colleagues that allows individuals who receive extra training to carry concealed pistols into areas currently forbidden by Michigan law, including sports stadiums, bars and entertainment facilities.
In the bill, superintendents or administrators at schools and churches, synagogues, temples and other places of worship would be able to set site-specific policies on concealed weapons on the premises.
In December, the same month as the shooting that left 20 elementary school students and six adults dead at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., a bill that would allow concealed weapons in schools made its way through the Michigan House as well as the Senate. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has since vetoed the bill.
However, it seems such legislation may keep coming back in various forms, as SB 112 seems to demonstrate. Teachers and parents alike had mixed feelings about the original bill vetoed by Synder, and to which the subsequent bill is similar.
Matthew Trebbing is the father of three young children; Landen, age 4; Leah, age 2; and Lily, age 1. Landen starts kindergarten next year at Amberly Elementary School in Portage.
“That could be anybody; that could be our kids,” said Trebbing. ” That was just a small town out in the middle of nowhere; that could be any town. I see my own kid’s faces, it could be them.”
“I feel like it’s something that if people really wanted to carry in places like schools and churches, they might have already been doing that,” Trebbing said. “Just the whole thing of guns being in schools . . . it’s not a place for guns.”
Trevor Sandberg is also against legislation that allows guns in and around schools. He teaches social studies to juniors and seniors at Otsego High School and firmly believes in educating students about gun laws. His classes often involve government and law, so the topic of gun control becomes relevant to course material.
“I just think that it creates more problems than need to be. Right now, if it were put on a vote, I would vote ‘no’ to have guns in schools. We’re not at that point yet; we haven’t dealt with the other major issues yet.”
Kathryn Dristy is an art teacher at Cornerstone Charter School in Detroit, which is a K-4th grade elementary school, just like Newtown. She’s undecided about concealed weapons in schools.
“I just feel like a lot of mistakes and accidents could really happen in situations where people are trying to do the right thing by having a gun,” she said. “I am kind of on the fence about that one, it seems like more bad things can come from it.”
Some parents and teachers felt as though there are other possible solutions and have other ideas that they think would make schools safer.
For Dristy, safety is about planning.
“You’re not going to keep every classroom on lock-down throughout the school day,” Dristy said. “You’re not going to be able to have bars on every window and put your life on hold because there’s crazy people out there. Schools should remain locked…a gun-emergency plan in order, and making sure your staff is all on the same page.”
Trebbing thinks that specific steps such as metal detectors at entrances, police officers on school property or a security offer on the grounds would contribute to school safety.
Sandberg attempts to keep his students up-to-date on the facts about what is going on with gun laws in the U.S.
“Even if there were guns introduced to school to counteract these shootings, the important thing is that the students are informed and the students know what’s going on,” Sandberg said.
Dristy believes that citizens have a right to bear arms, but that automatic weapons should be reserved for specially licensed individuals such as soldiers. “No one should be able to have access to semi-automatic or automatic weapons, not unless they have a job that permits it,” Dristy said.
Trebbing, who keeps a shotgun in his home for protection, expressed his concerns about public accessibility to assault weapons, “Sure we can have them, but do you really need them? Do people really need them? Should they be that accessible to everyone? I don’t know. There are just some guns the public really don’t need to have that easily accessible.”
Sandberg, who has recreationally shot an assault rifle but does not own one, also expressed similar concern towards assault weapons.
“For me it’s a no-brainer, yeah I like to shoot `em [assault weapons], but do I think that I should be allowed to shoot `em? No, I don’t,” Sandberg said. “There’s some power behind these things, way more power than a citizen needs I think.”
Sandberg wants to ensure that those regularly interacting with students aren’t carrying guns. “There has to be some sort of disconnect between who’s carrying the gun and the students.”