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October 26, 2009 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-10-26

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, October 26, 2009 --9A

* The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Monday, October 26, 2009 - 9A

DPS chief: Campus
safety hurt by gun bill

r

From Page 1A
firearms policies across the state.
For example, Bolger said, if a
concealed pistol license holder
passed through a college campus
without the intention of getting
out of his car, he could be stopped
by a police officer for violating the
weapons-free ordinance on cam-
pus under the current law.
"Now, that law-abiding citizen
(would have) no idea of this," Bolg-
er said. "So this is the type of situa-
tion we're looking to address."
Bolger said because the bill does
not change the rules for weapons-
free areas like residence halls and
classrooms on campus, he doesn't
believe the law would increase
guns or violence on college cam-
puses.
"I would argue all of this brings
college campuses in compliance
with the rest of the state," he said.
"I think people want to envision
somehow this law would mean
you'd have guns in classrooms or
dormitories, or all over in campus.
I really argue that it's not going to
do that."
But Brown said the bill poses
several safety issues for college
campuses, pointing out that alco-
hol consumption paired with more
guns could pose serious risks.
"I think essentially guns on col-
lege campuses don't mix," Brown
said. "It's an educational environ-
ment and ...young people shouldn't
have to worry about what's hap-
pening around them."
While the bill would not change
the pistol-free zones like class-
rooms, Brown said the definition of
a classroom is an ambiguous one,
since instructors often hold classes
outside in the Arboretum or on the
Diag.
"So if you extended the idea that
you don't want guns in a classroom,
then a piece of that ought to extend
much broader on a college campus
setting," Brown said.

"Then you can even look at it
as a workplace issue and being in
the workplace," Brown continued.
"Obviously you want to make it
safe and secure and that wouldn't
be consistent with allowing guns
on campus."
Brown saidshe doesn't think the
bill is necessary because there have
been so few firearms violations
over the past few years.
"And we certainly haven't had
a lot of controversy or problems in
the years we've had the weapons-
free campus," she said. "It hasn't
seemed to be particularly difficult
to understand. In several years it's
been less than half a dozen viola-
tions with that law."
With this bill, the potential for
more violent situations could arise,
Brown said.
"If you don't allow guns, then
there's less likelihood that some-
thing could escalate from an argu-
ment into something much more
violent," Brown said. "The bottom
line: we believe guns should be
used only by those who are fully
trained in their use -- law enforce-
ment officials - especially on a col-
lege campus."
DPS Executive Director Ken
Magee testified last week that the
bill would create a more dangerous
campus environment in front of the
Committee on Tourism, Outdoor
Recreation and Natural Resources,
which is considering the legisla-
tion, accordingto Brown.
Unlike DPS, Michigan's State
Police have a neutral official stance
on the bill, according to First Lt.
Matt Bolger, legislative liaison for
the Michigan State Police.
Matt Bolger said the purpose
behind the bill is to make firearms
laws consistent across all areas of
the state by treating universities as
equivalent to cities, towns and all
other local governmental units.
"It's not so much about allowing
guns on campuses, as it (is) treat-
ing campuses like any other units

of government in the state," Matt
Bolger said.
He said he didn't think there
would be increased risk of violence
as a result of the bill's passage, and
that it would serve to make firearm
laws uniform across the state.
"We had a few very upset phone
calls from individuals that realized
that some universities in Michi-
gan have ordinances making it a
misdemeanor to do something the
state says you can legally do," Matt
Bolger said. "It just caught them in
consternation."
The bill now awaits a vote by the
committee, which James Bolger
said is very likely to pass the bill.
If passed by the committee, the
bill would move to the full House,
where James Bolger said he thinks
it again has a good chance of pass-
ing.
In interviews, University stu-
dents had mixed reactions to the
bill.
Some students, like LSA and
Education junior Sierra Cain,
think eliminating the University's
gun-free ordinance would create
a more dangerous environment on
campus.
"I wouldn't feel safe walking
around campus," Cain said. "Across
campus, now, I feel like I can walk
around by myself most of the time
except for late at night. But know-
ing that people could be concealing
firearms by law, be permitted to
do that, I wouldn't feel comfort-
able at all. Ann Arbor's a really safe
town and why would you endanger
that?"
But other students like LSA
sophomore Amanda Laurent said
as long as the bill doesn't change
the pistol-free zones like class-
rooms and residence halls, it would
be acceptable.
"I think that's perfectly fine,"
Laurent said. "I mean, it's part of
our rights as citizens. As long as it's
not allowed in the classrooms ... I
think it's perfectly fine."

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