Michigan Democrats oppose bill ensuring 2A rights in state of emergency

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

Your right to keep and bear arms is never unimportant, but your ability to protect yourself and the ones you love is most acute in an emergency. And yet, over the past two years, we’ve seen Americans from Connecticut to California deprived of their ability to acquire a gun thanks to COVID rules that led to gun stores being forced to close because they were “non-essential” and concealed carry applicants having to wait for more than a year to simply drop off their application at their local sheriff’s office because of social distancing concerns.

Wayne County, Michigan was one of those places where thousands of residents found their Second Amendment rights pushed back into the distant future, which ultimately resulted in a lawsuit against the county clerk over the delays. The Michigan legislature also took notice, and on Thursday lawmakers gave final approval to a bill that would ensure that the bureaucracy won’t be a barrier to the exercise of anyone’s Second Amendment rights the next time a governor declares a state of emergency.

The Republican-sponsored bill, a response to what happened in 2020 after the coronavirus pandemic struck and prompted government shutdowns, was approved Thursday by the House on a largely party-line 58-43 vote

The sponsor, Sen. Lana Theis of Brighton, said Second Amendment rights cannot be infringed even in times of emergency. She said clerks refused or delayed issuing or renewing concealed handgun permits due to COVID-19.

“People must be able to defend their life and property, especially during an emergency when having a concealed weapon may be even more necessary,” Theis said in a statement.

Many Democrats opposed the measure, which could be vetoed.

“Senate Bill 11 is not about the Second Amendment. Rather, it is a bill challenging our public health authorities’ ability to make quick decisions and issue public health directives based on the science and information they have had available at the time,” Rep. Julie Rogers of Kalamazoo said. “There may be another public health emergency that we don’t know today that warrants temporarily pausing activities that contribute to the spread of disease.”

This is such a gimme for Democrats who want to show independent voters that they’re not absolutely insane when it comes to the Second Amendment, and yet the vast majority of them chose, like Rogers, to remind us that, no, they really don’t care about your civil rights or your personal safety.

Keep in mind, these delays were taking place at the same time Wayne County was releasing hundreds of inmates because of the concern about spreading COVID behind bars. It was also happening while arrests for carrying without a license (a felony charge in Michigan) were exploding in the county.

“We shouldn’t let these kinds of cases, which do not make us any safer, clog up our legal system,” said Chanta Parker, managing director of Neighborhood Defender Services, or NDS, of Detroit.

As 7 Action News reported Monday, the number of people charged with just carrying a concealed weapon in Wayne County has exploded since the pandemic. NDS reports that 70% of its clients charged with the crime legally own their weapon and, citing internal statistics, said 97% are black.

… “The vast majority of the CCW arrests are involving legal guns, legally owned by the arrestees,” said Arnie Chambers, a criminal defense attorney. “Most have very little if any prior contacts with law enforcement, yet they’re being charged with felonies.”

Michigan is an open-carry state, which means you can carry a legally owned and registered weapon so long as it’s in full view. But the law is frequently misunderstood,with some gun owners thinking they can tuck their firearm into their waistband, or drive with it in the car.

A CCW charge is a five-year felony in Michigan.

Five years in prison for legal gun owners who had their gun in their vehicle but didn’t have a concealed carry license, at a time when their county clerk wasn’t issuing licenses. Not only is this a Second Amendment bill, it’s actually a criminal justice reform measure, with Michigan Democrats demonstrating that they have no problem whatsoever with locking people up in prison for years for committing the “crime” of bearing arms without a government-issued permission slip.

Now, I’m 99% sure that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is going to veto this bill with that creepy smile of hers on her face, but the eternal optimist in me refuses to give up all hope that she’ll do the right thing here, even if it’s not for the right reasons.

But odds are she will veto this bill, and when she does, I really hope Republicans make this an issue for the rest of the year, not only in the gubernatorial election, but in every state legislative race as well. Point out these statistics in Wayne County, and demand that these representatives and senators explain how on earth they could cast a vote that not only amounts to an approval of these ongoing injustices, but ensures that they will happen again. With crime and law-and-order issues a priority for many voters, every one of them in Michigan, gun owner or not, should know the contempt these Democrats have for their civil rights and their personal safety when they head into the voting booth this November.