Michigan's Republican governor vetoes bill that would allow concealed carry in schools

Disappointing but understandable. If even the NRA was sufficiently cowed by public reaction to Sandy Hook to keep silent until today, how much political leeway did the Republican governor of a blue state have to expand gun rights — in schools?

Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed a bill this afternoon that would have allowed gun owners with extra training to carry their concealed weapons in schools, day care centers, churches and stadiums.

In his veto letter sent to the Legislature shortly before 4 p.m., Snyder said the bill had a fatal loophole that didn’t allow for those institutions to opt out of the new legislation and prohibit weapons from their buildings.

“I believe that it is important that these public institutions have clear legal authority to ban weapons from their premises,” he said. “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.”

The bill passed the Michigan legislature, which is also controlled by Republicans, the day before the Connecticut rampage, so it was Snyder alone who was left to squirm here. He made no bones about what influenced him either:

Gov. Snyder said in a release sent to The Huffington Post that last Friday’s shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary led to a thorough review of the bill. Instead, he said he calls for a “more comprehensive review of issues relating to gun violence.” He has now ordered a multi-departmental assessment of the state’s services and needs regarding at-risk children.

“This type of violence often leaves society with more questions than answers,” Snyder said in the release. “The reasons for such appalling acts usually are numerous and complex. With that in mind, we must consider legislation like SB 59 in a holistic manner.”

It’s legal in Michigan to carry openly, just not concealed, so the stakes were low. Besides, for the moment, Snyder’s facing a nasty backlash over the right-to-work law he signed last week. Per PPP, the public opposes the RTW statute, 41/51. Snyder’s approval rating now stands at 38/56, down 28 points since early November, and the Republican legislature is even less popular than he is. This was an easy chance for him to get on the other side of them and to cash in some of the goodwill he earned from conservatives after taking on the local unions. If he has to endure a few weeks as a Democratic talking point in the great gun-control debate (“even Michigan’s Republican governor thinks…”) then, as a blue-state pol, he can live with that.

Via RCP, here’s what a red-state pol sounds like on the same issue.