LANSING (WWJ) – A Michigan legislative committee has voted to allow people with concealed weapon permits carry guns inside churches, schools and other places now off-limits.

WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick reports the fast-tracked bills were approved three-to-two in the Senate Government Operations Committee Tuesday, with Republicans voting for, and Democrats against.

The full Senate plans to vote as early as Wednesday, Skubick said, and the bills are again expected to pass along party lines.

Under Michigan law, it is illegal for the nearly 618,000 people with concealed pistol licenses, known as CPLs, to carry in designated gun-free zones such as schools, day care centers, taverns and casinos.

Proponents of the legislation, including Senate Majority leader Arlan Meekoff who sponsored the bills, says these zones are a “target-rich environment” for mass shooters.

He opened Tuesday’s meeting by saying he doesn’t think talking about guns in schools two days after a mass shooting at a Texas church is insensitive.

“I believe the recent events highlight the need to consider how we can deter those who look for targets and intend to harm, to do harm,” Meekoff said. “I believe citizens have the right to be free, and safe, and secure and to defend themselves and their loved ones. Responsible, well-trained, licensed gun owners may be one of those deterrents to seek out gun-free zones as opportunities to commit heinous crimes.”

Meekoff said the Crime Prevention Research Center reports more than 98 percent of the mass shootings have occurred in gun free zones.

The Michigan Education Association opposes the legislation saying the only people who should be allowed to carry firearms in public schools are police officers and school security personnel.

Julie Row, with the American Federation of Teachers, agrees.

“I think a lot of kids feel safe at school and that’s what our teachers and our school employees aim for our students,” Row said. “But when we expose them to weapons we’re absolutely undermining their confidence that they can go to school and learn and come home at the end of the day.”

To be clear, open carry of guns would be outlawed in gun-free zones under this legislation.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed similar legislation in 2012 that would have allowed concealed pistol license holders with additional training to carry in gun-free zones.

© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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