AP Photo/ Rick Bowmer
Lawmakers around the country are busy pre-filing legislation for the upcoming 2020 legislative sessions, and in Michigan, two gun-related bills have been introduced that gun owners need to keep an eye on.
First, the bad bill. Democrats in both the House and Senate have introduced universal background check legislation that would expand on the state’s existing law.
Bill sponsor, Representative Brenda Carter (D-Pontiac), said at a press conference that lawmakers must take the issue of gun violence seriously.
“What happens to our young people, what happens to our seniors, what happens in our nation, is affected by our inability to move legislation like what we have here today forward,” she said.
The bills waiting to be introduced in the state House and Senate would require universal background checks for anyone trying to buy a firearm. It would include all firearm sales by any seller.
Right now, the law only requires checks for people buying pistols from any seller.
So, Michigan already requires background checks on the sale and transfer of handguns. Has that made a dent in Detroit’s crime rate? Absolutely not, so why would expanding that requirement for the sale and transfer of long guns impact violent crime? Criminals are already disregarding the law when it comes to handguns, so it’s not like they’re going to comply with the law once it encompasses rifles and shotguns too. Long guns also aren’t used in a large number of crimes, so this measure is far more likely to impact hunters and competitive shooters than it is robbers and gang members.
A much better piece of legislation is the bill introduced by Rep. Rodney Wakeman, a Republican from Saginaw Township who wants to allow individuals who’ve had to take out an order of protection to carry in “gun free zones.”
“We need to pursue common-sense solutions to help better protect people who are at a higher risk of being victimized,” Wakeman said. “Criminals do not follow the law and they may take advantage of the vulnerability of gun-free zones – places where a survivor of domestic abuse and stalking cannot fully defend themselves – to violate a PPO.”…
Wakeman noted that domestic violence victims are already allowed to receive temporary concealed weapon permits under current law to help better protect themselves. His plan provides even greater protections.
I have my concerns about establishing a special class of citizens who get to ignore gun-free zones, and I think a better solution would be to get rid of most of those prohibitions entirely, but I appreciate the intent behind the legislation. I covered a tragic case out of North Carolina recently where a man shot and killed his ex in the parking lot of the medical facility where she worked. She had taken out an order of protection, which her ex violated several times, but after every arrest he was quickly back out on the streets, and eventually she was murdered as she was heading into her workplace with a gun he illegally possessed.
With Republicans in control of the state legislature I don’t expect that the universal background check bill is going to get far, and with Democrat Gretchen Whitmer as governor, I suspect that Wakeman’s carry bill is probably not going to earn her stamp of approval. Neither of these bills is likely to become law, but both are likely to become emblematic of the narratives of both Republicans and Democrats in the 2020 campaigns across Michigan: Democrats trying to reduce violent crime by imposing new restrictions on legal gun owners, and Republicans trying to reduce violent crime by empowering victims to protect themselves. I don’t live in Michigan, but I know which of the two choices I’d be voting for if I did.