Safety on college campuses is a concern on the back of many people’s minds, and Michigan lawmakers are trying to ease that concern a little bit. A proposed gun law headed for the Michigan Senate is designed to make college classrooms and dorms safer, but legislators might just be fighting fire with fire.
The proposed bill will allow concealed handguns in classrooms and dorms, given the handgun owner meets the necessary requirements: completion of nine hours of additional weapons training, shooting 192 more rounds at a range and keeping them concealed in a holder.
Currently, the law bans concealed carry holders on certain parts of campus, but allows them to openly carry a gun on campus. This sounds acceptable, but upon closer inspection it doesn’t make sense that people aren’t allowed to conceal guns, but are allowed to flaunt a weapon around campus. If lawmakers feel safety is an issue on college campuses, having people walk around with a gun will not solve that issue.
Dispelling the current law is the right decision, but it’s a false assumption that allowing guns in classrooms and dorms will establish a sense of security.
Lawmakers have the right goal — safety on college campuses — but are approaching it from the wrong angle. Allowing people to carry concealed guns in classrooms and dorms isn’t going to make anybody feel safer, especially if they aren’t the ones carrying the guns.
On the other side, people should have the right to defend themselves. Individuals with bad intentions aren’t going to be worried about laws when they choose to attack students on campus.
Regardless, the rationale behind this bill is concerning.
Ryan Mitchell, a spokesman for State Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville, who is the bill’s main sponsor, said in a recent interview with The State News (“Proposed law could make concealed guns OK at MSU” SN 3/29) that the guns would make students feel more protected.
“We’d like to dispel the myth that college campuses are safe,” he said. “We believe Michigan citizens have the right to protect themselves wherever they are.”
Of course college campuses, like any other expansive public area, might not be entirely safe. Of course citizens should have the right to protect themselves. However, allowing some people to have a concealed weapon for safety only will make the rest of the campus feel unsafe. Allowing a subset of people to carry concealed guns will not, in and of itself, create a widespread feel of safety.
A plurality of students don’t have either the time or the inclination to get a gun. This proposed law won’t make those students feel any safer on campus, and it actually might make them feel more threatened by the knowledge that there are concealed weapons on campus.
Allowing concealed weapons on campus is a poor rationale for attempting to make college classrooms and dorms safer. Although this bill might add to some people’s perception of safety, it also might just make others feel more uneasy on campus.
Although it’s comforting to see student safety is an issue with lawmakers, the Michigan Senate is going about it in the wrong way.