I wish it weren’t true, I really do, but here’s the thing: the reason we still have gun free zones in this State is Gov. Rick Snyder.
Let’s review the political landscape in Michigan. Michigan’s legislature is divided into two chambers: A senate and a house.
The Michigan Senate is made up of 38 members (26 Republicans and 12 Democrats – As of this writing). The Michigan Senate has had this composition since January 1, 2011 and this composition will remain in place until the end of December this year (2014).
The Michigan House is made up of 110 members (59 Republicans, 50 Democrats, and 1 “Independent” Democrat – as of this writing). The Michigan House has had this composition since January 1, 2013 and this composition will remain in place until the end of December this year (2014). Between January 1, 2011 and through December, 2012 the composition was 64 Republicans and 46 Democrats — 9 votes short of a supermajority (66%) of Republicans. The latter amount represents the composition when SB 59 was passed in 2012.
Let’s talk about SB 59, as ultimately passed by the legislature. SB 59 would have (in brief):
- Overhauled the process to get your CPL to make getting your CPL much simpler, with one person (your local Sheriff) being solely responsible for issuing your CPL or facing financial penalties in Court for denying you without a lawful reason (as specified in MCL 28.425b)
- Force the CPL Issuer to grant a person who completed a nominal amount of additional training an exemption to the Concealed Pistol Free Zones outlined in MCL 28.425o — nearly eliminating concealed pistol free zones in Michigan.
- Made it illegal to open carry a firearm in a location described in MCL 28.425o.
While the third point rightfully posed some controversy in Michigan’s second amendment community, especially open carriers, Michigan’s “Big 3” (Michigan Open Carry, Inc, Michigan Coalition of Responsible Gun Owners, Michigan Gun Owners) Firearm organizations voted (via their Board of Directors) to Support SB 59 as it ultimately passed and urged the Governor to sign it.
Ultimately, Gov. Rick Snyder decided to veto SB 59. He didn’t veto it because he’s so pro-gun he opposed making it illegal to open carry in a 28.425o zone, no…not at all. In fact, that language was added to the legislation at the Governor’s insistence. Rather, the Governor opposed SB 59 because (according to his veto letter) he wanted to weaken preemption:
“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,” he said. “These public venues need clear legal authority to ban firearms on their premises if they see fit to do so.“
So all those publicly owned pistol free zones described in MCL 28.425o? Snyder wanted them to be able to ban guns, contrary to the State’s preemption law outlined in MCL 123.1102. Senator Mike Green, lead sponsor of SB 59, refused to cave into this final demand of the Governor to weaken preemption, so the bill passed as it did and the rest is (as they say) history.
Senator Mike Green Later reintroduced SB 59 in the next (current) session as SB 213. Sadly, SB 213 has gone nowhere because the Governor doesn’t want to address/eliminate Pistol Free Zones. Since the Governor is a Republican (like a majority of the State House and Senate) the Republican majorities won’t take up the issue. After all, many of the members do not want to further embarrass/alienate their parties Governor on the matter prior to an election. Many of these members are counting on their Governor’s support during the election season (both the Primaries and the General Election) to help them get re-elected. Fearing the Governor will withdraw his support from fellow Republican members who pass legislation supporting the elimination of 28..425o zones, the legislature has sat on SB 213. Would this be the same if the Governor didn’t belong to the same party as a majority of the state legislature?
To answer that question, let’s look at history of previous legislature and Governor. In 2006 the legislature passed Michigan’s version of “Stand your Ground”, the Self Defense Act of 2006. Not wanting to alienate gun owners prior to the November election of 2006, Governor Granholm signed the law in July of 2006.
This political situation aside, it’s possible SB 59’s veto would have been overridden. SB 59 passed on final passage with the following support, House: Yeas 68 Nays 41; Senate: Yeas 27 Nays 11. In the Senate a 2/3’s majority to over-ride a veto is 26 votes. In the House it is 74 votes. In other words, the Senate had enough votes and the House would have only needed to flip 3 votes. Of course, given fear of losing support of the Govenor, the legislature wouldn’t over-ride the Governor’s veto even if the votes were there. This recently happened in Missouri where the Republican Legislature overrode the Democrat Governor’s veto on pro-gun legislation.
In fact, even the Liberal Huffington posts seem to suggest gun free zones are a bad idea.