School safety continues to receive a good deal of legislative attention in Michigan, as it does in many states in 2018. At the end of May, a bipartisan collaboration of Michigan state senators introduced legislation to dedicate more funding to school safety.
Officials have said the aim is to offer a holistic approach that addresses multiple concerns. The details are still unclear, but the bill does call for increased funding, most likely for school building improvements, counseling support, and putting more resource officers in schools. It also calls for collaboration among school districts and local law enforcement agencies. The bill is reportedly backed by several law enforcement and education groups, though news reports did not provide names of which organizations.
This bill follows talk among lawmakers a few weeks ago about whether or not to change gun laws in schools. Some legislators in Michigan are interested in arming teachers, but this particular bipartisan bill does not include that provision. A recent survey of 1,005 public school employees by the Michigan Education Association, the largest teachers union in the state, revealed that 71% oppose the move to arm teachers. When adjusting the parameters to include only interested, trained teachers with guns locked by fingerprint-identifying locks, the percent opposing remains high, at 63%.
This news comes on the tail of Michigan’s Supreme Court agreeing to hear arguments on two cases, one from Ann Arbor Public Schools and another from Clio Area School District, that aim to disallow licensed and permitted gun owners from entering school campuses while openly carrying, despite current Michigan law that allows this practice.
The new bipartisan bill avoids issues surrounding guns in schools, instead choosing to focus on support systems like counselors, law enforcement presence, and changes to buildings themselves.