Traverse City Record-Eagle

Region

October 25, 2009

Campuses center stage in weapons debate

(Continued)

A separate, Republican-sponsored state Senate bill that seeks to allow concealed weapons in college classrooms and dormitories also recently was introduced. McManus, who has a concealed weapons permit, is a sponsor of that bill.

Schmidt, a member of the National Rifle Association, said his bill's primary goal is to make sure people with concealed carry permits don't have to worry about facing arrest as they cross into certain areas.

"The main purpose of it is to clarify the law and put everyone on the same playing field ... I just want to make sure responsible, law-abiding gun owners know what the law is throughout the state of Michigan, and that they don't get caught up in one difference here and one difference there," he said.

Nelson said NMC and other colleges often impose rules stricter than state law -- NMC has a complete campus alcohol ban for students of all ages, for instance -- and he's concerned about politicians usurping a college board's ability to set guidelines for student conduct.

And Nelson disagrees the bill will clear up confusion about where students can carry guns. NMC's total ban on possessing any weapons on campus is easier for both the college and students, he said.

Schmidt's bill, combined with McManus', could create a dangerous setting on campus, Nelson said.

McManus said she believes allowing concealed weapons in dorms and classrooms is just a "small step" to add to the places such weapons can be carried.

"I've always been a pro-gun advocate ... I've been an advocate that if you are a law-abiding citizen, you should be able to carry," she said.

'No reason to have a weapon'

Students and staff at NMC expressed concern about safety issues and distractions that could arise if guns are allowed on their campus.

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