I have just e-mailed this letter, below, to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. Gov. Snyder is analysing Senate Bill 59, Michigan's Concealed Carry law. The final bill was passed and delivered to Gov. Snyder mere hours before the heart breaking tragedy in Connecticut that resulted in the deaths of twenty beautiful, innocent children and six adults. The gruesome, horrifying violence took place in a school full of kindergarten through 4th grade students at the hands of an armed gunman.
In Michigan, right at this very moment, our governor is currently considering legislation changes that will eliminate "gun free zones" such as schools, churches, bars, and event arenas.
I wrote to the Governor and I wanted to share the letter, below the fold...
December 15, 2012
To Governor Rick Snyder,
Good day. I am a lifelong Michigander, a taxpayer, a voter, and a mother. I am writing today in regards to the concealed weapons legislation known as Senate Bill 59, currently awaiting your signature to become Michigan law. I am opposed to this legislation and I implore you to withhold your signature. I ask you most sincerely to not make concealed carry of firearms in Michigan schools the law of the land, to not sign SB 59 into MI law.
Many times in recent history you have been quoted publicly regarding another divisive issue, Right to Work, as not being on your agenda. Yet, after signing the law you told The Atlantic, “"The way I viewed it was, the discussion was going on, so let's take a position now...let's get it resolved.” Prior to the horrifying events in Connecticut on December 14th, 2012 concealed carry in Michigan public schools was not on my agenda due to my understanding that the SDFSCA’s incorporation of the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 which requires any state receiving federal ESEA funds to codify in state law a “zero tolerance policy” establishing the disciplinary consequences local schools must impose for a student’s possession of a firearm on campus. A portion of the Gun Free Schools Act reads:
``(a) Short Title.--This section may be cited as the `Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994'.
``(1) In general.--Except as provided in paragraph (3), each State receiving Federal funds under this Act shall have in effect a State law requiring local educational agencies to expel from school for a period of not less than one year a student who is determined to have brought a weapon to a school under the jurisdiction of local educational agencies in that State, except that such State law shall allow the chief administering officer of such local educational agency to modify such expulsion requirement for a student on a case-by-case basis.
This law requires that states must require a school to expel a student who is determined to have brought a firearm to a school, or to have possessed a firearm at a school, for not less than one year and I mistakenly believed it would be enough to ensure that our school campuses may remain gun free zones. It is apparent, however, that this code is far too limited in protecting our school children from weapons on campus, as it does not extend to weapons carried by staff, parents or adults. The horrific murder of 20 young elementary school children in Connecticut has brought the focus of gun control into the awareness of the entire nation, and rightly so. The focus is even more acute here in our state of Michigan with the final passing of the concealed weapons legislation just hours before the mass gun murder of those beautiful, innocent children. And while many across our nation insist that now is not the time discuss the dangers of lenient gun laws, I say now is exactly the time to discuss it, before any more of our nation’s children are made to die at the hands of a merciless armed killer. The way I view it is the discussion is already going on, and you, the governor of the state of Michigan are yet again faced with taking a position that will have far reaching and possibly life threatening and costly impacts on our citizens. Please, Governor, lets get it resolved.
In April of 2012 you presented a Special Message from Governor Rick Snyder on Michigan Education Reform to the Michigan Legislature in which you said, “We must ensure that Michigan students’ opportunities are not diminished because we fail to provide them with a safe and secure learning environment.” You also said, “Michigan students should not suffer because we fail to act.” You are now faced with the ultimate challenge of backing up those statements with action, responsible governance that says Michigan schools will not be burdened with additional opportunities for gun violence through the passage of SB 59. In that same message you stated the following:
• All human behaviors, from work force abilities to social skills build on capacities developed during childhood, beginning at birth. The early development of cognitive skills, emotional well-being, social competence, and robust physical and mental health is the foundation for school success. These abilities are the critical prerequisites for economic productivity and responsible citizenship throughout life.
• Michigan must change to support these realities.
• At every level we need to place the bright light of public scrutiny on the measures of success or failure that will drive a better future for Michigan.
• But just measuring and reassigning responsibility is not enough.
• In every school district, transparency, accountability and empowerment in the classroom are critical.
Indeed, the words above you wrote last April must now be weighed in your consideration of the implications of allowing concealed firearms on our school campuses. In that consideration you must ask yourself, does this create better student outcomes? Does this legislation further the goal of helping our children develop cognitive skills, promote emotional well-being or social competence or support the foundation of robust physical and mental health? Does this legislation support the reality that children do indeed die at the hands of armed gunmen? Does concealed carry promote transparency, accountability or empowerment in the classroom? Does reducing wait time for license approval to 45 days, imposing fines and eliminating county gun boards merely measure and reassign responsibility? Is that enough? Does such a law place at every level the bright light of public scrutiny on the measures of success or failure that will drive a better future for Michigan? Does allowing concealed carry of firearms in Michigan K-12 schools ensure that Michigan students’ opportunities are not diminished because we fail to provide them with a safe and secure learning environment?
Also in your consideration you must include the proven history of gun fatalities and the cost of such to the citizens of this state. In February of 2006, Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the Michigan Department of Community Health released compiled numbers regarding Michigan gun deaths and more from 1993-2003. In it, it states :
• Between 1999 and 2003, an average of 1,066 Michigan residents died each year due to
firearm injuries. Suicide and homicide were the cause of death in 51% and 46% of cases,
respectively. The remainder were unintentional, undetermined intent and legal intervention.
• Firearms were used in 71% of Michigan resident homicides during 1999-2003.
• There were an average of 494 firearm homicides annually during this period.
• In a 2002 survey, 40.5% of Michigan residents reported having a firearm at home. This
exceeded the prevalence of firearm ownership nationally (32.6%).
• One in thirty Michigan adults reported having a loaded, unlocked firearm at home.
• Firearm homicides to Michigan residents occurring in 2003 resulted in an estimated $3.3 million in medical costs and $518 million in work-loss costs.
• Firearm suicides that same year resulted in an estimated $3.3 million in medical costs and $410 million in work-loss costs.
Gun fatalities are extremely costly to the state of Michigan and its citizens and clearly do not support healthy outcomes.
Finally, while this legislation is in your hands, I compel you to consider whether or not the actual citizens of Michigan even support this legislation. On Thursday April 19, 2012 poll findings were released showing that Michigan citizens indeed do not support this bill and do not want concealed weapons to be allowed, not only in schools, but in the churches, event arenas, and bars it will eliminate as gun free zones. The poll, as reported by mlive.com on the day of its release, found that even in households where at least one member has a concealed permit, most voters strongly oppose the effort to allow hidden handguns in so-called “pistol-free zones”.
From the mlive.com article:
“The question asked in the survey was: "Current Michigan law allows people with a concealed weapons permit to carry their handguns nearly everywhere, but the law has some exceptions. A bill now before the Michigan Legislature would, for the first time, allow individuals who have a permit to carry a concealed handgun to carry it in schools or on school property, day care centers, sports arenas or stadiums, bars and taverns, hospitals and college dormitories or classrooms. Based on what you know about this issue, do you favor or oppose the proposal to allow concealed handguns to be carried anywhere?" The survey of 600 likely voters found 72 percent opposed the bill, 63 percent strongly so. Twenty-five percent favored the effort. The poll, done over four days ending April 3, has a margin of error of 4 percentage points. Nearly one in five households included at least one member with a concealed permit holder, the survey found. Of those, 53 percent of respondents opposed the bill.”
Rev. Eric Stone, Methodist Minister from Essexville, authored a resolution that has been adopted by the Detroit Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church (representing over 600 churches) that states the church and ministries will remain concealed weapon free zones, regardless of changes to the law. The legislation is limited, in that allows certain private entities and public universities to post signage banning weapons, however that is not nearly enough and the only way to “take a position now”, Governor, is to keep gun free zones as they are. As the Rev. Stone said in an editorial in a local news publication, “An ongoing nationwide study by the Violence Policy Center documents that since May 2007, citizens legally allowed to carry concealed handguns have killed at least 14 law enforcement officers and 499 private citizens, including 35 shooters who killed themselves after the attack. In Michigan, from July 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011, 38 lives were ended by Michigan concealed handgun permit holders in non-self-defense deaths. In addition, conceal carry licensees have committed at least 23 mass shootings (three or more victims) that claimed a total of 103 innocent lives.”
In closing, in analysing the legislation of SB 59 regarding changing Michigan’s concealed carry law, please consider all of the above. Please proceed slowly and with great caution as you weigh the impact of gun violence on our citizens, the cost of that violence, the will of the good people of this great state we all share and call home, and most importantly, the dangers of concealed firearms—indeed any firearms—posed to our school children. Our children deserve better, and as their parents, educators, protectors, and legislators, each and every one of us must give them every opportunity for growth, safety, and provide the environment for their future. We must all do this in both word and deed, and you Governor Snyder, now face a truly challenging decision in that regard. As this nation and every parent in America mourns for the inalterable loss of twenty innocent young school children who were slaughtered by a gunman at their school, a place where no child any where in the world should ever feel unsafe, I implore you to show this state’s own students that you support them both in your own words and deeds by not signing Senate Bill 59 into law. As you yourself have said, “We can – indeed we must – do better.”
(my real name, address, and phone number)
Please, I invite you to share your own thoughts on SB 59 with Governor Rick Snyder as he considers signing this bill, which eliminates "gun free zones" and would allow concealed carry of firearms on school campuses and much more. This bill eliminates county gun boards, shortens the wait time for license applicants to 45 days, and much, much more.
The full language of SB 59 can be found here.
You can contact Governor Snyder below:
PHONE: (517) 373-3400
PHONE: (517) 335-7858 - Constituent Services
Governor Rick Snyder
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, Michigan 48909