Limiting guns isn’t answer to school shootings

Michigan’s Republican candidates for governor argued Saturday that the way to protect schools against gun violence is to have single points of entry and more security guards, not to institute restrictions on firearms.

“We need to make sure that our kids are as protected as the jewelry store and the bank down the street,” GOP hopeful Tudor Dixon of Norton Shores said. “How can our future not be safe? How can we put our kids in a situation where we don’t know if they’re safe?”

The GOP candidates addressed the subject of guns in schools during a debate in Traverse City Saturday afternoon. Their comments came four days after a shooter killed 19 children and two teachers inside an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

The violence in Texas reignited a policy fight that’s been unfolding in Michigan since Nov. 30 when four students were fatally shot at Oxford High School and six other students and a teacher were wounded.

Six Republican candidates for governor participated in Saturday’s debate, including all five contenders whose names remain on the Aug. 2 primary ballot. On Thursday, the Board of State Canvassers deadlocked on whether five other candidates, including former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, had gained enough valid signatures to have their names appear, setting off a legal fight.

The five candidates have been blocked because of a wave of allegedly fraudulent petition signatures. Of the five who currently aren’t on the ballot, only financial adviser Michael Markey of Grand Haven took part in the Traverse City debate, which was aired by northern Michigan’s 9&10 News.

Businessman Kevin Rinke of Bloomfield Township said the state needed to have trained people, like former members of the military, serve as “hall monitors” to prevent gun violence at schools.

“There’s a single entrance to a bank,” Rinke added. “There’s a single entrance to a courthouse. They’re all protected by people with guns.

“Why aren’t we protecting our kids the same way? There’s evil out there, folks.”

Rinke said taking away law-abiding citizens’ guns wasn’t the answer because “the bad guys” wouldn’t give up their weapons.

“Protect our children at all costs,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that we shatter the Constitution.”

Likewise, Dixon, a businesswoman and conservative commentator, spoke against “gun-free zones,” describing them as “sitting duck zones” that leave kids unprotected.

Two candidates, Markey and real estate broker Ryan Kelley of Allendale, said they supported installing metal detectors at schools. Kelley suggested instead of providing $40 billion in aid to Ukraine, which is enduring a Russian invasion, the money could have gone to metal detectors.

Markey said he agreed with having metal detectors, a single entry point and more police officers inside schools.

“When kids grow up around police officers, it’s not going to be a scary environment for some children when they run into a police officer,” he said.

Pastor Ralph Rebandt of Farmington Hills said he also supported single points of entry, along with having military veterans in schools and “gun-sniffing dogs.”

“Guns haven’t changed,” Rebandt said. “But what has changed is the heart and the culture of the state and the country. Unless we bring God back into the classroom, the courthouse, unless we bring him back into culture, we’re going to continue to see it erode.”

Chiropractor Garrett Soldano of Mattawan said he was in favor of arming teachers if they chose to be armed. He said the country was having a “culture problem,” a “mental health crisis problem” and a “social media problem.”

“We don’t have a gun problem, folks,” Soldano said.

Earlier this week, in response to the Texas shooting, Democrats in the state Legislature pushed for new storage standards for firearms and background checks for gun purchases.

“This is urgent,” state Sen. Rosemary Bayer, D-Beverly Hills, said on Wednesday. “Every day we don’t take action we are choosing guns over children. Enough is enough. No more prayers. No more thoughts. No more inaction.”

Lavora Barnes, chairwoman of the Michigan Democratic Party, said in a statement Saturday that the GOP candidates’ positions amounted to “refusing to protect kids from gun violence.”

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