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Michigan Democrats have been frustrating. But are the Republicans even sane?

Nov 10, 2017

As a firm believer in the ideology of rational behavior, I have plenty of problems with the Democratic Party on both the national and state level.

Nationally, all of their three most often mentioned presidential candidates – Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and even Elizabeth Warren – are extremely old, by political standards.

Were any of them to take office in 2021, they would be the oldest new president ever to be inaugurated. 

Then there’s House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who is older still than any of them, and is sort of the Leonid Brezhnev of the Democrats – someone in office so long they’ve become a symbol of stagnation and unwillingness to change.

Michigan Democrats have been frustrating too. But based on events in the last few days, I have to wonder whether a significant number of Republican lawmakers have difficulties with, well, sanity.

Consider this: Within barely a month, this nation had two massacres by berserk gunmen, one killing 59 people, another 26. The Republicans in the Michigan Senate believe the proper response to this is to allow people to carry concealed weapons everywhere in formerly gun-free zones like schools, churches, and day care centers.

They passed a package of bills that both do that and prevent schools or any other public body from forbidding guns. Every Republican senator except Troy’s Marty Knollenberg voted for these bills. He objected to not allowing places to opt out if they chose to.

Click here to learn about the Senate's legislation to allow concealed weapons in gun-free zones

True, the bills would require those with concealed pistol licenses to get eight hours of additional training before packing their hidden heat in a formerly gun-free zone.

But over in the House, Speaker Tom Leonard, a man who wants us to elect him attorney general next year, thinks nobody should have to get a permit or any training whatsoever to carry a concealed weapon. He led the House to pass a bill ending the training requirement early this summer. That bill hasn’t yet become law.

"The prospect of an inadequately trained person confronting an active shooter in a school setting is terrifying." - Harry Frank

It wouldn’t surprise me if the House passed the Senate package and stripped the training requirement out.

Harry Frank, a retired professor from the University of Michigan's Flint campus, loves guns. He owns them, collects them, and kept a revolver in his office on campus. But he thinks these latest bills are nuts.

“The prospect of an inadequately trained person confronting an active shooter in a school setting is terrifying,” he told me.

As it is, he believes Michigan has “troublingly superficial requirements” for getting a concealed pistol license. Frank, who spends a fair amount of time in New Mexico, thinks we should adopt that state's rule which gives a business owner the right to forbid guns in his or her establishment. There, a sign doing that has the force of law.

I have known a lot of police chiefs, and I can tell you that they almost unanimously oppose bills like these. As Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, himself a former teacher, said in a vain attempt to stop this craziness, “real life is not an action movie.”

Fortunately, there is some real hope Governor Rick Snyder will veto these bills if the House does pass them and they reach his desk.

He vetoed a similar bill five years ago. It might make sense for citizens who have concerns to let his office know how they think.