- Associated Press - Sunday, February 28, 2016

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Last weekend’s fatal shooting spree in Kalamazoo hasn’t narrowed the political gulf between some Michigan Republicans and Democrats on gun control issues, on which two competing packages of bills have been filed in the Legislature.

One of the measures in the Republicans’ four-bill package, which was introduced before the shooting, would scrap a law that requires people to have a permit to carry concealed handguns.

Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Larkin Township, says it would allow trained, law-abiding citizens to help stop shooters like Uber driver Jason Dalton, who is charged with murder and attempted murder after the string of shootings on Feb. 20 that killed six people and injured two. Dalton had no criminal record, and did not have a permit to carry concealed firearms.

“Absolutely it would make people safer, in my opinion,” said Glenn, who is not sponsoring the bill package, which has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. Republican Reps. Jim Runestad, of White Lake, Tom Barrett, of Potterville and two other Republicans sponsor the bills.

Bill sponsors said the legislation would not have stopped the shooting, but Glenn said he believes that “the only thing you can do is even up the odds.

“This is not the 21st century that we all thought we were gonna have, or that we wanted,” Glenn continued. “But the hard, brutal reality of today’s world is that we face threats not just from terrorism, but from random shootings, and I think the more law-abiding citizens who are armed and capable of defending themselves and people around them, the better.”

But Democratic Rep. Jon Hoadley, who’s from Kalamazoo, doesn’t think arming more citizens will help stop gun violence.

“I think that’s victim blaming at its worst,” Hoadley said. “Because someone chose to do something evil, is that the victims fault? I mean, that’s offensive. It is disconnected from reality.”

Hoadley and Rep. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, have introduced bills in a competing package to tighten gun control.

One measure would disallow concealed handgun permit holders from openly carrying pistols in places like schools, hospitals, day care centers and dorms. They say the package, currently stalled in the same committee as the GOP package, would also close loopholes in laws overseeing background checks.

Republican Rep. Klint Kesto, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said that the shootings haven’t impacted his willingness to consider the measures, but that he isn’t currently planning a hearing on the GOP package because other legislation is a higher priority.

“The Kalamazoo shooting, I mean, it’s tragic,” said Kesto, of Commerce Township. “And we have to look at things that prevent that overall, from an overall picture. It’s unfortunate that happened to us here in Michigan, but anytime I look at gun bills, those types of situations I take into consideration, and what would be the impact.”

A pair of bills that never made it out of the Senate would have allowed those with permits to carry concealed handguns in certain areas like schools and daycare centers - reversing what some Democrats call a “loophole” that lets those with permits carry guns in those areas in the open, but not concealed.

Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed similar legislation in 2012 after the mass killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut left 20 children and six faculty members dead.

“I vetoed it once, I’d veto it again,” Snyder told a local Lansing radio station in November, 2015. But Snyder’s office also said that he thinks concealed handgun permit holders should be allowed to carry their guns in the open. He vetoed the legislation primarily because it did not allow places like schools, hospitals and daycare centers to opt out, according to his office.

President Barack Obama said after the Kalamazoo shooting that the United States needs to do more to prevent gun violence, a refrain he has repeated throughout his time in office.

“Earlier this year I took some steps that will make it harder for dangerous people, like this individual, to buy a gun,” Obama said. “But clearly we’re gonna need to do more if we’re gonna keep innocent Americans safe.”

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide