'81 Shooting Influences Snyder Veto

By: Jason Colthorp Email
By: Jason Colthorp Email

Governor Rick Snyder has vetoed a gun bill allowing for concealed weapons in schools.
As he considered the bill, two shootings weighed on his mind.
The mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary and one from his past.
In 1981, on Good Friday, the governor was in law school at the University of Michigan. He was a resident advisor when a student started a fire then started shooting at the students running out of the dorm.
"It obviously affected my life, because it's just one of those terrible tragedies," Governor Snyder recalled. "It was on a smaller scale and in college but two fine young men died."

A mentally ill student had started a fire by throwing Molotov Cocktails into the hallway. As RA's, Snyder and one of his best friends were first responders. The student opened fire with a shotgun-- killing another RA.

"Then another resident was killed and my friend came down and he had blood all over him," said Snyder. "I was there for the victims coming down and the whole works, so the rest of the school year was different experience for all of us and it affected our whole lives."

That shooting and the one in Newtown, Connecticut Friday, weighed heavily on Snyder's mind when he decided to veto Senate Bill 59. It would have allowed gun owners with a CPL to carry a concealed weapon with extra training in gun-free zones including schools. But schools, churches and other entities could declare themselves off-limits under trespass laws.

But the governor told me he wasn't wild about the bill from the beginning.

"I had some issues-- some serious concerns with the bill even before the shooting on what was in the process."

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