GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -
Newly passed legislation by the Republican controlled legislature will make it OK for many people to carry a concealed weapon in schools. The bill is headed for the governor’s desk.
The superintendent of Kent Intermediate School District says by some sort of terrible irony, the reports of the murdered elementary students came pouring in right after the Michigan legislature passed Senate Bill 59 Friday.
Superintendents from across Kent County are trying to let the governor the legislation isn’t right for their school districts.
Grand Rapids Public Schools Spokesperson John Helmholdt says parents generally don’t want more people with guns in schools. Helmholdt says right now it isn’t legal for the average person to walk into a school with a gun and the new legislation would change that.
The bill allows adults who meet certain requirements to carry concealed weapons if they receive an additional six hours of training.
In fact, Helmholdt says the tragedy in Connecticut has caused the school to go through their safety procedures once again as a refresher. “Your hearts go out to them, it does make you reflect and say what more can we do?”, says Helmholdt. “And we`ll always be doing that. It`s a constant state of reflection regardless of this incident.”
Helmholdt says following the shooting Friday, the school began preparing a letter to explain to parents how they train to handle the unthinkable should it happen as it did in Connecticut. “We`re fortunate because we`re one of the most well-trained, well-organized districts when it comes to school safety,” says Helmholdt.
Fox 17 received a news release Monday afternoon from the superintendent of Kent ISD, stating how their superintendents in the Kent County area feel about the newly passed legislation. Superintendent Kevin Konarska says lawmakers shouldn’t be allowing more people to carry in concealed weapons.
“All superintendents are grieving just like all the families in Connecticut over what happened, the tragedy that happened in Newtown,” says Konarska. “Shortly after (the shootings in Connecticut) the legislature sent legislation to the governor that would allow more guns to be allowed in our schools.”
Konarska says all 20 superintendents from the public schools in Kent County signed the letter, asking Snyder to veto the legislation.
In part they were also addressing the argument that teachers and administrators could stop an assailant better if they carried a weapon.
The letter reads, “Nor is it likely an armed teacher or principal would deter a planned assault any more than the armed officers who responded to the Columbine, CO incident in 1999. Schools are made safe through careful crisis planning, secure buildings and safety procedures that are regularly practiced.”
“They`re very concerned, that more guns being brought into school. This isn`t the answer to make our schools a safer place, a more secure place,” says Konarska.
We contacted the governor’s office for comment on whether or not he is in favor of signing the bill. His office responded saying the governor hasn’t received the bill yet.
Snyder’s office also released a brief statement saying, “As Gov. Snyder indicated earlier, this bill was already going to be undergoing careful review, analysis and consideration, even before Friday’s tragic event. He also said these heartbreaking situations like Connecticut always must and should give deep pause, but that we can’t jump to conclusions either. He’s going to be looking at holistically and also asked the team to review from a multitude of angles, including mental health, school safety and security polices, etc.”