AP Photo/John Locher, File
Carrying a gun legally can be fraught with obstacles. There are places you’re not allowed to go while armed, for example. Making a mistake or not knowing you can’t carry in a particular place can land someone in very deep water, enough so that not only does the individual lose their permit, but their ability to legally own firearms at all.
In Michigan, it seems Republican lawmakers are seeking to reduce some of those penalties to a more manageable level.
Gun rights supporters in the Michigan House are working to decriminalize certain firearm-related offenses as part of a larger effort to roll back regulations on gun ownership and use in the state.
House Republicans named protecting second amendment rights as one of its top priorities this session. So far, many of the gun-related bills taken up for hearings focus on reducing existing penalties for violating Michigan’s current gun laws or removing restrictions on certain gun use.
In the House, legislation that would decrease the punishment for carrying a concealed pistol with an expired license from a felony punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment, a $2,500 fine or both to a civil fine of $330 if the license had lapsed in the previous year passed on the floor with bipartisan support.
Another bill that would let a person transport a loaded shotgun on private property in a car, all terrain vehicle or four wheeler also cleared the House floor.
Another pair of bills recently passed out of the House Military, Veterans and Homeland Security Committee, House Bills 4200 and 4201, would reduce the penalty for carrying a concealed weapon in prohibited areas to a civil infraction for the first offense.
Currently, state law mandates punishments based on the number of offenses of carrying concealed in prohibited areas like schools, churches, sports arenas and hospitals. A first offense is a civil infraction punishable by up to a $500 fine and a six-month license suspension, a second offense is a misdemeanor coupled with revocation of the person’s concealed pistol license and a third offense is a felony.
As introduced, those bills would have made any violation a civil infraction punishable by up to a $100 fine, with no license suspensions.
There’s a lot more going on in Michigan, and I wish them well.
I don’t think there should be anywhere considered “off-limits” for firearms except for someone else’s home. If I don’t want them doing certain things in my house, I have to respect their right to limit what I do in theirs.
Beyond that, I have serious issues with the idea of “off-limits” for constitutionally-protected rights. Unfortunately, I’m in the minority.
If we’re going to restrict where people can exercise the right to keep and bear arms, the least we can do is minimize the impact of making a mistake, for example. There’s no reason to ruin someone’s life over a momentary lapse of judgment that doesn’t hurt a single, living soul.
While some anti-gunners may argue with that description, I don’t care about the ramblings of the irrational.
I hope that Michigan can pass these bills and make life a little bit easier for those who wish to exercise their right to keep and bear arms in accordance with state law.