Michigan Governor Rick Snyder vetoed a bill that would have allowed concealed guns in public schools that lawmakers had approved less than 24 hours before a gunman killed 20 elementary school children in Connecticut.
Snyder, a 54-year-old Republican, said he rejected the measure primarily because it didn’t allow day care centers, hospitals and other public entities to opt out, according to a letter sent yesterday to the state Senate.
“While we must vigilantly protect the rights of law-abiding firearm owners, we also must ensure the right of designated public entities to exercise their best discretion,” Snyder said in a statement. “These public venues need clear legal authority to ban firearms.”
The measure was among several under consideration in states including Ohio, Oklahoma and Alabama to redefine where guns may be kept or carried. The Dec. 14 Newtown rampage by a 20-year-old with a semiautomatic rifle caused Snyder to take a closer look at the proposal, according to the statement.
Hospital and school groups and a coalition of clergy opposed the Michigan bill.
Under the legislation, retired police officers and those with permits who have had additional training would have been allowed to take concealed firearms into public areas now designated gun-free zones.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised Snyder’s veto, saying it showed a commitment to rational gun policy.
“Now we need similar courage and leadership from our elected officials in Washington,” said Bloomberg, co-chairman of the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns and the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
People can continue to openly arm themselves in schools, churches and other public areas, said House Speaker Jase Bolger, a Marshall Republican.
“Neither the governor’s approval nor his veto will stop evil from preying on innocent people,” Bolger said in an e-mailed statement. “We know that criminals do not respect gun-free zones.”
Only one Senate Democrat voted for the measure, said Bob McCann, a spokesman for the caucus. He said the Connecticut shootings should prompt debate over violence, guns and mental-health care.
That debate is happening in states across the country.
Like Snyder, Republican Governor John Kasich of Ohio has faced pressure to reject legislation expanding where owners can bring their guns. In his case, it would be right beneath him: House Bill 495 would allow firearms in parking garages under the statehouse in Columbus.
“I’m a Second Amendment supporter, and that’s not going to change,” he said in a statement.
Oklahoma state Representative Mark McCullough, a Republican from Sapulpa, said he’d push a bill allowing teachers and administrators to carry weapons, according to the Associated Press. In South Dakota, Republican Betty Olson of Prairie City plans to introduce a similar measure, AP said.
In the past two years, 19 states have considered expansion of gun rights in workplaces, colleges and on government property, according to the San Francisco-based Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Lawmakers in Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina and Pennsylvania are pushing bills that would create a right for workers to keep guns in cars parked at work, with or without employers’ consent.
People with concealed-carry permits should be able to take firearms anywhere, Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, said Dec. 17 at an event in North Richland Hills hosted by the Northeast Tarrant Tea Party.
The Connecticut killings prompted some Democratic leaders to come out in support of further restrictions.
The state’s governor, Dannel Malloy, who broke down in tears when recalling how he informed parents that their children had been killed, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo indicated they support measures such as bans on high-capacity ammunition magazines like those used in Newtown.
“The time is right” to consider gun-control laws, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said the day before the Connecticut shootings, according to AP.
The governor, whose fellow Democrats control the Legislature, introduced an $18.5 million plan yesterday to redesign the state’s mental-health system, making records more easily available for gun-purchase background checks, his office said in a statement.
Colorado has been the site of two high-profile mass killings. In July, a masked gunman opened fire at a midnight movie in Aurora, killing 12 and injuring 58. In 1999, two students shot 12 classmates and a teacher at Columbine High School before killing themselves.
In California, Democratic state Senators Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles and Leland Yee of San Francisco said they’ll introduce measures to make it harder to get certain ammunition and to strengthen an assault-weapon ban.
The state prohibits semiautomatic assault weapons, including the Bushmaster used by the killer in Connecticut, and magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, according to the attorney general’s website. Governor Jerry Brown’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment on whether he’d support such measures.
President Barack Obama at a prayer vigil for the victims pledged Dec. 16 to use “whatever power” he holds to prevent similar killings.
Michigan state Senator Rick Jones, a Republican from Grand Ledge, said in an interview yesterday that politicians are powerless.
“We are terribly hurt by this horrific shooting in Connecticut, but there is no law that we can pass that would prevent it,” Jones said.