Downriver officials oppose concealed carry legislation

Russell Pickell

Russell Pickell

For the Sunday Times

RIVERVIEW – Advocates and adversaries of gun ownership can come to a political compromise: New concealed carry legislation wending its way through the state Legislature calls for increased gun safety education.

The three bills, that the Senate approved Nov. 8, would allow people with additional training or certification to legally carry handguns into gun-free zones, including bars, casinos, churches, stadiums, day cares and schools

The Michigan state Senate Government Operations Committee passed Senate Bills 0584, 0585 and 0586 on Nov. 8, 2017 in response to recent mass shootings. Introduced by Republican Sens. Arlan Meekhof (30th District), Phil Pavlov (25th District) and Mike Shirley (16th District), the state shall issue concealed pistol licenses to those who apply for exemption and meet certain training requirements (eight hours of instruction that includes firing at least 94 rounds of ammunition on a range).

Bill 0586 was issued to clarify the scope of local law gun pre-emption, affirming that a state law which previously imposed local government restrictions on firearms will continue to apply to all state-owned enterprises, such as schools, parks, airports, and libraries.

Private owners still retain the authority to ban guns in places such as bars, and universities which have constitutional authority could regulate gun possession on their campuses; however, there is no opt-out provision granted to SOEs, including public school districts.

Riverview Community School District Supt. Russell Pickell, is confident that his district has countermeasures in place to deter school violence.

“Our staff practices lockdown drills and our buildings are equipped with camera (and) buzzer systems for entry,” Pickell said. We have excellent communication and fast response times with our first responders.”

In addition to tabletop exercises, educators are also required to regularly complete a series of training modules in SafeSchool, designed to inform faculty and staff on subjects including assessing potential threats, operating surveilance equipment, and visual weapons screening.

Southgate Police Chief Brett Selby and his officers exercise similar precautions with Downriver SWAT and will continue to remain calm in a crisis.

“Evil doers who wish to prey upon those who cannot defend themselves, who exhibit sociopathic behavior envision themselves completing their evil twisted plan,” Selby said. “If these sociopaths meet resistance or in some way are unable to complete their evil, it is a failure for them. Going forward, training and education can co-exist to keep our children safer.”

This is not the first time the issue of concealed carry has appeared before the state legislature. Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed bills in 2012, shortly after the Sandy Hook shootings.

“Governor Snyder never indicates how he is going to vote on issues when confronted by the media,” Selby said. “However, on this issue he is rather telling and highly likely to veto this bill.”