Complete Guide to SB59, now awaiting Gov. Snyder’s signature

by Reid K Smith on December 14, 2012

Update: Governor Snyder vetoed SB59 on December 18th. We find Governor Snyder’s decision to preserve “gun free” zones – areas in which only criminals are permitted to carry concealed firearms – reprehensible and deserving of your scorn. Please let Gov. Snyder know how you feel

After a long, hard fight, SB59 – introduced by Senator Mike Green – was passed by the House on Thursday, December 13th. Having previously passed the Senate on November 29th, the bill now moves to the Governor’s desk and awaits his signature. SB59 is a long bill (making modification to 80 pages of statute) and we do not plan on publishing a detailed analysis of the entire bill – only the portions that are relevant to campus carry (the bill can be viewed here, and a PDF summary found here). Additionally, we will make another post answering any specific questions our supporters have (submitted via our Facebook page) in the coming days. All of these changes will take effect on May 1st, 2013, and are contingent on Gov. Snyder’s signature. SB59 was supported without reservation by Michigan Students for Concealed Carry (view our letter of support here).

What SB59 says: 

  • SB59 will allow CPL-holders who complete advanced training – the NRA’s 8-hour “Personal Protection Outside the Home” course qualifies – to receive exemptions from all Pistol Free Zones, which include college classrooms and dormitories. The Enhanced CPL, (“ECPL”) will cost $20, and will be a ‘shall-issue’ license, just as current CPLs are – meaning that, if one completes the training and pays the fee, they must be granted an ECPL.
  • Open carry – which was previously allowed in some Pistol Free Zones, including college classrooms and dorms – is now prohibited in those zones under any circumstances. While MI-SCC has no position on open carry, we owe a thank you to Michigan Open Carry for supporting the bill despite this provision, (which was added late in the process to ensure legislative support).
  • SB59 does not alter the ability of private property owners to ask those carrying a concealed firearm to leave their establishment, either via a clear sign or a verbal request. If a gun owner refuses to do so, he or she is guilty of criminal trespass. Additionally, if the gun owner must use his or her firearm after being asked to leave, the gun owner is no longer protected by castle doctrine laws, (which only protect those who use justifiable force where they are legally permitted to be). This is not a new addition to Michigan law; media reports claiming otherwise are inaccurate.
  • SB59 does not alter the ability of three universities – University of Michigan, Wayne State University, and Michigan State University – from continuing to enact and enforce ordinances that they currently make with regards to firearms. Many universities – including UofM and WSU – believe that they can charge law-abiding CPL-holders with misdemeanor crimes (using the force of law, not ordinances) for bringing firearms onto their campuses. This belief runs counter to the interpretation of statute by the Michigan State Police and many attorneys who specialize in firearms law. The controversy stems from Michigan’ s preemption statute, which states that “A local unit of Government shall not… enact or enforce any ordinance or regulation pertaining to… pistols or other firearms.” Simply put, most people believe colleges and universities are a “local unit of Government.” Colleges and universities do not believe this is the case, and, curiously, claim this non-government designation means they can create their own laws. Again, this is not a new addition to Michigan law. This issue was discussed in more detail in a previous post.
  • SB59 makes a host of other changes to CPL law, including the removal of gun boards, a requirement that county sheriffs issue a CPL within 45 days or refund a portion of the application fee, and general streamlining of the process. SB59 also mandates that Michigan CPL holders – who pay the 6th highest application fee in the country – receive a more durable license in the future, rather than the laminated sheets of paper that are issued at present. The bill also standardizes the process of CPL application, eliminating predatory fees and useless forms that were required by some counties. It also requires that a CPL license be mailed – just like a drivers license – eliminating the hassle that some counties imposed by requiring personal pickup. A full summary of these changes can be found here.

Why didn’t MI-SCC seek a more aggressive provision that required campuses to allow Campus Carry? Some have claimed that, by not clarifying the preemption statute above, SB59 doesn’t do enough for Michigan Students for Concealed Carry. We disagree, for several reasons. First and foremost, such a bill would be less likely to pass. Second, MI-SCC made a strategic decision several years ago to pursue the removal of campus classrooms and dorms from pistol free zones prior to pursuing an enforcement of preemption. We made this choice after the dramatic failure of a bill introduced by outgoing State Representative Richard LeBlanc (D) in a previous legislative session. In addition to the futility of attempting to pass a legislative solution, we believe that any legislation worded in a way that would be conducive to passage would likely be ignored by universities – either broadly, or by placing enough rules on concealed carry as to make it practically impossible, while still following the letter of the new law. Furthermore, we believe that current statute does not require additional legislation. Thus, after speaking to several attorneys, lawmakers, and fellow activists, we made the choice to pursue a judicial, rather than legislative, enforcement of state preemption law. It was at that time that the strategic plan was created to focus on the pursuit of a legislative removal of college classrooms and dorms from the list of pistol free zones, followed by a judicial enforcement of state preemption, if necessary. By achieving the first stage of our plan, we have decriminalized campus carry in the state of Michigan – an enormous first step, and one that we have long perceived as the most difficult.

So, can I carry on a college campus now? This bill only eliminates the state penalty for carrying in a college classroom or dorm for those that have an ECPL, effective May 1st, if Gov. Snyder signs. This means the State will no longer be able to prosecute you for violating a Pistol Free Zone, which carries with it a suspension of the CPL. Carrying on a college campus (except dorms and classrooms) was never illegal under state law, but is uncommon due to the aforementioned ordinances by campuses. If SB59 is signed by Governor Snyder, MI-SCC will begin a systematic inquiry of all public state colleges and universities, asking them if they plan to retain current policies or revise them, and to what extent. We’re hopeful that some colleges will revise their policies to comply with state law, but we expect that most colleges will continue to enforce ordinances that prohibit firearms on their campuses. Certain colleges have been advised by the Michigan State Police that, in so doing, they are putting themselves at the risk of litigation that they are likely to lose. After this review is complete, we’ll evaluate any further courses of action. In the meantime, MI-SCC would like to remind you that, not only are we not an attorney, but we would never advocate breaking any laws. If you’d like to speak to an attorney who specializes in Michigan firearms law, we would be more than happy to put you in touch with one.

Who should I thank for passage of SB59? You should thank any lawmaker that voted YES on SB59 – with special thank yous going to the list outlined below. If your Representative or Senator voted yes, they should be thanked as well. Thank yous help us ensure that we can count on support in the future, and should also include a mention of your support of Michigan Students for Concealed Carry – this ensures that lawmakers know that MI-SCC members are informed and appreciative!

  • Every Republican lawmaker voted YES on SB59, with the notable exception of State Representative Matt Lori (mattlori@house.mi.gov).
  • The following Democratic lawmakers broke with their caucus to vote YES, an action that MI-SCC appreciates as both difficult and extremely important: Sen. John Gleason, Rep. Richard LeBlanc (a past supporter of MI-SCC), Rep. Kate Segal, Rep. Charles Brunner, Rep. Stacy Erwin-Oakes, and Rep. Charles Smiley.
  • Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville was instrumental in calling SB59 for a vote in the Senate, despite the opposition of many lawmakers. Sen. Richardville has supported MI-SCC in the past, introducing a bill that specifically removed college classrooms from the list of Pistol Free Zones in the last legislative session.
  • Senate Majority Floor Leader Arlan Meekhof strongly supported SB59 from the beginning, and has also supported MI-SCC in the past.
  • Senator Tom Casperson served as Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, and assured an immediate and favorable passage of SB59 through his committee.
  • House Speaker Jase Bolger was responsible for assuring SB59 passed through the House on an extremely tight schedule.
  • Rep. Frank Foster served as Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, and, despite our initial misgivings, proved to be instrumental in his support for SB59. He assured passage through his committee, and was critical in ensuring that SB59 remained a pro-gun bill, despite numerous demands from lawmakers to water it down. We owe him a special thank you for his support.
  • Rep. Joel Johnson and Rep. Paul Opsommer were both instrumental in supporting SB59. Both supported the bill despite some misgivings within their caucus. Additionally, Rep. Johnson was critical in publicizing MI-SCC’s support within his caucus.
  • MI-SCC values the support of our fellow 2nd Amendment groups on SB59. Notably, the Michigan Coalition of Responsible Gun Owners (MCRGO) and Legislative and Membership Director Brady Schickinger lobbied tirelessly for SB59. We appreciate the support of Michigan Open Carry, Inc, (MOC) and President Phil Hofmeister, especially in light of a late provision which removed the ability to open carry in pistol free zones, a right that was previously permitted. Additionally, we appreciate the support of Michigan Gun Owners (MGO).

The most important thank you should be reserved for Senator Mike Green, who introduced SB59 and fought tirelessly for its passage. His enthusiastic fighting on behalf of Michigan gun owners is uncommon. Sen. Green expended political capital in fighting for this bill, but never wavered in his determination – because he knew it was the right thing for Michigan gun owners. Importantly, Sen. Green refused to add a provision which would have retained college classrooms and dorms as Pistol Free Zones – a provision that would have destroyed SB59 in the eyes of MI-SCC. Please contact Sen. Green and express your most sincere thanks. Additionally, Sen. Green’s staff – namely Ryan Mitchell – are owed an enormous thank you. Orchestrating a bill like SB59 is a 24-hour a day job, and Mr. Mitchell ensured that MI-SCC was included in the process.

That’s it! The fight isn’t over until Gov. Snyder signs the bill, and there is a chance he will not. However, we’ve done all we can for now. Make sure to thank the above lawmakers, like us on Facebook (for real-time news), and carry responsibly.

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