Students all over the state of Michigan may soon be able to carry concealed weapons on campus. Bill 5474, introduced by Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, to the Michigan House of Representatives, would prohibit colleges from banning weapons on campus.
Section two of the bill specifically outlines what local units of government and institutions of higher learning would not be able to do if the bill were passed.
“A local unit of government or institution of higher education shall not impose special taxation on, enact or enforce any ordinance or regulation pertaining to, or regulate in any other manner the ownership, registration, purchase, sale, transfer, transportation, or possession of pistols or other firearms, ammunition for pistols or other firearms, or components of pistols or other firearms, except as otherwise provided by federal law or a law of this state,” the bills says.
The bill has been met with mixed responses. Police Chief Greg O’Dell believes this bill is a cause of concern.
“Some of our concerns would be if you had a situation where people have a fight,” O’Dell said. “Say you have a situation where police officers are pulling up to a scene where everyone has guns. There’s no way of telling who the bad guys are. The whole idea of people carrying a dangerous weapon on campus makes me a little uncomfortable.”
If the bill were passed, O’Dell would take the necessary steps to educate students on the responsibility of having guns.
“I would like to hold security forums if the law changed,” O’Dell said.
President Susan Martin also believes the bill is concerning for college campuses around the state.
“We are monitoring this legislation,” she said. “It’s a concern, especially considering events that have occurred nationally, such as Virginia Tech.”
Martin said she does not see the need for students to have concealed weapons on campus.
“We have a great police department and there’s no need for this,” Martin said. “This is a learning environment. We need to have a safe haven on campus. This would be disruptive.”
Reid Smith, the Michigan director for concealedcampus.com, is in favor of students being allowed to carry weapons on campus. Students for Concealed Carry on Campus is an organization of more than 40,000 individuals, with members in all 50 states.
“Excluding firearms from campus is an arbitrary decision. [Firearms] don’t take away from learning,” Smith said.
Smith said there is a need for firearms on campuses, and instances such as the one at Virginia Tech could have been prevented if students were allowed to have weapons.
“The shooter absolutely would have been stopped before he killed so many people,” Smith said. “They called the police, but they did not get there in time.”
Smith said that people are fearful of weapons because they do not have complete knowledge of them.
“People are apprehensive, but when you explain the rationality behind it, that starts to sway their opinions,” he said.
Violetta Shuman, a student at EMU, is against guns being allowed on campus.
“I feel like it is the worst idea,” Shuman said. “Anything can trigger someone to get upset. Who is to say they won’t shoot? I would feel very unsafe, and I feel like violence would increase drastically.”