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Commentary: Gun control and the governor

By now, you’ve probably heard that Governor Rick Snyder yesterday vetoed the bill that would have allowed anybody to carry a concealed weapon into elementary schools, or other places, like churches and day care centers, where they are now banned.

This is being hailed as a great victory for gun control. The bill’s sponsor, State Senator Mike Green of Mayville, was very disappointed that the governor wouldn’t sign it.

The fact is, however, that this really isn’t a victory for gun control at all. There are a lot of myths about what happened here. So allow me to try to puncture them.

First of all, it would have been politically impossible for any governor in a major state to have signed this bill four days after the Newtown massacre. But it is important to note that all indications are that Governor Snyder would have vetoed this bill even if 20 first-graders hadn’t been murdered in their classrooms last Friday.

The day before the shooting, Snyder’s director of legislative affairs told Senator Green that the governor would veto it unless schools were given the option to “opt out,” to say, that sorry, we are not allowing concealed weapons here.

That might sound perfectly reasonable. In fact, as the governor noted in his veto message, the bill would have allowed private property owners to do exactly that, to ban concealed weapons.

It even allows colleges and universities to do so. But not day care centers or elementary schools. Senator Green was told the governor insisted they be allowed to opt out, too.

But Green said allowing schools to forbid concealed murder machines was going too far, and he wouldn’t agree.

Even if that meant the rest of his bill would go down the drain. This apparently made sense to him. However, those against weapons in schools may not want to celebrate too much.

You can still walk into an elementary school or a day care center or a church with a loaded gun displayed openly, traumatizing the children, as long as you have a license.

Ironically, the law Snyder vetoed would have prevented that. And while he was vetoing the one law, the governor quietly signed two more making weapons easier, not harder, to get.

One says you no longer have to get a permit to buy a handgun from a federally licensed firearms dealer.

The other allows Michiganders to buy rifles and shotguns from any state, not just those bordering Michigan.

I guess we should be grateful; the original version of those bills would have gotten rid of the state’s handgun registry and also eliminated the need to get a permit to buy a gun.

The state police weren’t too happy about that. Why are some people so against any restrictions on what really are weapons of mass destruction? Well, it seems to be a combination of a wild west mentality and a disturbing conspiratorial fantasy that we have to protect ourselves from being enslaved by the government.

If you think we have more to fear from all the murder weapons out there, you’ve got a lot more work to do.

But my guess is that the parents of the dead kids in Connecticut might think it was a fight worth making.    

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