Open carry of firearms is an issue of increasing concern as more individuals are openly carrying, or attempting to openly carry, firearms into our schools and other sensitive areas in our local communicates.

Under current law, only individuals, private institutions and public universities (under constitutional autonomy) are permitted to regulate the possession of firearms on their property. Public entities, such as schools and day care centers, are not allowed to regulate the possession of firearms on their property, which puts their staff, who we trust to keep our children safe, in difficult situations. The reality is, school staff don’t know if the person openly carrying a firearm into the school has good or bad intentions. Only law enforcement should be bringing firearms into our schools.

This is a very divisive issue, and both sides are in complete disagreement. I support and co-sponsored legislation introduced by state Rep. Andy Schor earlier this year and last session to close this loophole statewide. In the interest of finding the common ground on this issue, state Rep. Stephanie Chang and I will be introducing legislation next week to allow public institutions listed under the Firearms Act, where concealed carry is prohibited under state law, the ability to prohibit open carry on their property by a vote of their governing board.

Gov. Snyder has repeatedly called on the Legislature to establish clear legal authority for public institutions to prohibit the possession of firearms on their property. This bill would do just that.

In his veto letter on Senate Bill 59 of 2012, Gov. Rick Snyder said, “I believe it is important that these public institutions have clear legal authority to ban weapons on their premises. Each is entrusted with the care of a vulnerable population and should have the authority to determine whether its mission would be enhanced by the addition of concealed weapons.”

We agree with Gov. Snyder that extending clear legal authority to public institutions is the sensible middle ground and hope we can make progress on this issue.