Michigan Gun Laws May Change

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A bill that would allow concealed weapons in daycares and theaters is already through the Senate.

Right now those places are among a list of pistol-free zones, but the new law would make it okay to have a weapon there, if you have the right training.

As a former sheriff turned lawmaker, State Senator Rick Jones (R), Eaton County, knows someone at Friday's friendly chili cook-off in Grand Ledge could be packing heat.

"People can literally carry like a cowboy in the old west, since the '20s this has been Michigan law," Sen. Jones said. "We've had numerous complaints."

Senate Bill 59 wants to change that. It proposes that concealed carry permit holders who get special training would be allowed to carry a concealed weapon in current gun-free zones, like schools and churches. Open carrying would then be prohibited in those areas.

"It'll be the citizens that have special enhanced training, and retired police officers, off-duty police officers that will be there to protect the children, or protect whatever location it is," Sen. Jones said.

That's not the way Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth sees it though.

"Think about this: You're at a University of Michigan football game on Saturday, you've got 119,000 screaming people, and half of them are drunk," Sheriff Wriggelsworth said. "Do you really want the guy sitting next to you to have a gun?"

Sheriffs are also directly impacted by the legislation, because it would eliminate the county concealed weapons licensing board, and sheriffs would take on those duties.

"I don't have the staff," Sheriff Wriggelsworth said. "The practical problem for law enforcement either state, local, or federal is we have to clean up the mess, when the gunfire starts, who gets to clean up the mess? We do."

Supporters of the law argue it will make the licensing process less complicated.

"The prosecutor doesn't have to be there or send a representative, not the state police, and it just simply streamlines the system," Sen. Jones said.

The organization Michigan Open Carry, Inc. is in favor of the bill. A representative said it's a step forward, though a provision for open carry would be ideal.

The bill still needs to go through the House. Sen. Jones said he's confident that will happen easily, and it could be on Governor Snyder's desk within the next two weeks.

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