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Senate panel votes to end gun-free zones

men carrying guns in a belt holster
flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM
The Lansing library system says Michigan's open-carry of weapons law does not apply to its facilities.

A state Senate committee has adopted on party-line votes legislation that would essentially eliminate “gun-free” zones in Michigan.

The bill would also close a loophole that allows people with concealed pistol permits to open carry in schools. But schools could no longer ban licensed concealed weapons.

“We have a constitutional right to defend ourselves, and there’s no exception clause associated with it,” said state Sen. Republican state Senator Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton. “Two, the data clearly shows that we have increased public safety when people are allowed to carry guns.”

School officials told the committee that allowing concealed guns in schools is not the correct solution to closing the open-carry loophole.

They say in cases of school shootings, authorities should not have to sort through who is licensed to carry a gun and who is a criminal. 

“I would really like, specifically, to keep guns out of schools,” said Susan Bailey-Carmen of the group Moms Demand Action. “Whether they’re open carry or conceal carry, I don’t think guns have a place in schools at all.”

The bills’ sponsors say more guns carried by people who are trained and licensed will make schools and other gun-free zones safer.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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