All in favor of praying and packing?

The Michigan Coalition of Responsible Gun Owners, a group that promotes gun safety issues and gun owners’ rights, has been teaming up with state Sen. Alan Cropsey (R-DeWitt) to loosen laws regulating the carrying of concealed weapons in Michigan.

Cropsey, who is a coalition member, has been holding meetings at gun clubs across the state to promote the idea, although no legislation has been proposed yet. Michigan is one of 37 states to allow residents to carry concealed firearms.

Schools, bars and churches, Cropsey and his allies say, are places where heat should be packed — by law-abiding citizens, of course. Under current state law, it’s also illegal to carry in pre-schools, university dormitories, classrooms, theaters, casinos and establishments that make more than half their income from alcohol sales. The coalition and Cropsey would open those for pistol-packers.

Members of Michigan’s Million Mom March, meanwhile, are blasting away with both rhetorical barrels. Shikha Hamilton, Detroit and Michigan chapter president, says the hearings are intended "to create a record that Michigan residents support these moves."

The closest meeting to Detroit was in Utica. Others have been held in Battle Creek and Caledonia. Meetings are planned next month in Clare and Escanaba.

Hamilton says the meetings are held far from the city because the group doesn’t care about gun violence in Detroit.

The meetings are public. But they’re not being widely advertised on purpose, Hamilton says. "We showed up because we’re a group that pays attention — the general public has no idea about these meetings," she says. "They know the average Michigander wouldn’t want guns in bars and day care centers."

Not so, says Charles Perricone, executive director of the coalition and former speaker of the Michigan House. Meetings, he insists, are well-advertised to people interested in gun-related subjects.

Perricone says the Moms are off the mark. "They ought to be focusing on why there are so many illegal guns on the street," he says. "How come it’s so easy for kids in Detroit to get ahold of guns?"

News Hits was unable to reach Cropsey by press time. However, Perricone says the senator is trying to cast his net as widely as possible to get people’s opinions — on subjects ranging from the use of dogs during the hunting season to gun registrations.

Tom Hendrickson, director of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, says the idea of mixing guns with religion and liquor doesn’t make his day. "Law enforcement is of the opinion that these are places where people shouldn’t be armed."

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