Our Lives Over Fear

Governor Snyder must repeal legislation that would
prioritize misplaced fear over the lives of Michiganders

Statistics from everytownUSA.org
By tate evans

As 2017 draws to an end, Michigan’s Republican legislators in Lansing have once again dug up the shallow grave of 2012’s politics, bringing concealed carry reform back to the table. In the name of self defense, Senate Bill 584-586 would allow those with eight extra hours of additional training to carry concealed firearms into gun-free zones, which includes sporting arenas, hospitals, schools, and even day cares. Unfortunately, for the hundreds of thousands of us who spend time at these places every day, this does not equate to self defense, but to potential for tragedy.

For those who have forgotten, this is not the first battle for the expansion of concealed carry in Michigan. Back in 2012, a similar bill (on partisan lines) passed the Senate and the House on the same premise of allowing guns in gun free zones. Ultimately, it was vetoed by Governor Snyder, who was apprehensive due to inclusions that could have allowed domestic abusers easier access to firearms. Now, no such inclusions exist, and if the bill passes in the Republican-controlled house, as it’s likely to, pistols in preschools is a likely reality for Michigan.

Before one can understand the ramifications of such a bill, an understanding on just what mass shootings are in America is needed. From 2009-2016, there have been 156 mass shootings in the US—incidents where four or more people were killed—according to Everytown USA. Overall, 848 people were killed and 339 people were injured. In more that half of those cases ,roughly 54 percent, the shooting was related to family violence. As to where they occurred, only 10 percent of all mass shootings occur in gun-free zones, while the majority ,64 percent, took place in a private residence. In Everytown’s database, they had not one instance where a mass shooter was stopped by an armed civilian, even when they were present (since those individuals recognized their gunfire might confuse law enforcement officials, they decided not to draw their weapons). Overall, the report paints a picture of mass shootings in the United States as a largely domestic problem, with the outliers—such as school shootings or terrorist attacks—being over-represented by the media.

To solve this misunderstood issue of mass shootings in gun-free zones, there are some who champion the expansion of the reach for concealed carry. Based on the principle good guys with guns could be there to stop the bad guys with guns, concealed carry laws allow citizens the option to have access of firearms for self defense in their daily lives. But is concealed carry actually effective in stopping crime? In a study conducted by the Violence Policy Center—a gun safety group—it was found that out of 722 gun deaths in 36 states since 2007 relating to concealed carry cases, only 16 were ruled as lawful self defense. Even more, 17 law enforcement officers died from gun owners with concealed carry permits.

It is a sad reality that arming fellow citizens with weapons does not lead to die hard-esque criminal put-downs, but just because we have the desire to be that Bruce Willis in our fantasies does not justify public policy that interprets such a simplistic view of gun violence. Considering the likelihood of a mass shooting taking place—and pairing it with the  decreased possibility of it occurring in a gun-free zone—the chance of a tragic accident taking place seems much more likely than the chance of true self defense. Guns serve a singular purpose: to do damage to a target. Doing damage and gun free zones simply do not mix. When we place guns into areas that both neither normally have events that would call for their use nor benefit in mass shooting situations when they are present, they equate to a recipe for disaster. Accidental firings, misfires, neglect, clumsiness, hot flashes of anger, and emotion all add up to a tragic death when paired with a gun. While we can trust law enforcement officers who have the training and accountability to avoid those factors with guns, trusting a wildcard that could ignite at any moment is simply unacceptable for any society.

Any educator, athlete, doctor or student who values the environment in which they live knows the expansion of concealed carry would only mean tragedy, so why not Governor Snyder? Our state government has the responsibility to put the quality of Michigan lives over any fantasy spun out of fear, and as governor, Snyder must once again take a stand and say no to a bill that would do just that. Because it’s not the NRA or voices of fear mongers that should have the greatest value in Lansing’s chambers, but Michigan’s most vulnerable.