MI lawmakers debate mandatory storage bill

(AP Photo/Philip Kamrass, File)

So-called safe storage–more properly called mandatory storage, really–is a law that requires people to lock guns up. Sometimes it’s only if there are kids in the house, others require it at all times. Either way, these laws tell people what they can and can’t do within their own homes.

Michigan didn’t seem like the most likely place for such a law to be debated, but after the shooting in Oxford, it’s become a thing.

Now, lawmakers are debating whether it’s the right move or not.

As the parents of the Oxford High School shooting suspect face felony charges for criminal negligence, the debate continues over enacting laws forcing gun owners to properly secure weapons.

Two Republican lawmakers representing Lenawee County say they are open to ideas about how to prevent future gun violence, but they are not sure that a bill in the Michigan House related to children accessing unsecured firearms is the right direction.

“I don’t believe that a new gun storage law would have prevented what happened that day,” said state Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida. “It was already illegal for the shooter to possess a handgun and illegal for him to bring it to school.”

Under proposed House Bill No. 5066, if a child accesses an unsecured firearm, the gun’s owner could face a misdemeanor charge. If the child injures or kills himself or others with an unsecured gun, the owner of the firearm would face a felony charge punishable by up to five years in prison.

The problem is that the parents are saying the gun was locked up.

Now, they could be covering their own butts–after all, charges have been filed against them–but it does introduce some issues regarding enforceability. If there is a method for securing a firearm such as a safe or gun lock, it becomes difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the parent didn’t take all reasonable precautions to keep a firearm out of their child’s hands.

Yet another reason why mandatory storage laws are a bad idea.

This says nothing about the numerous kids who have used a firearm to save their own life.

You see, parents generally know their kids fairly well. They know who can be trusted with a gun and who can’t and why. So some parents make sure the kid knows where a gun is in case they need it, and some have.

These kinds of laws would prevent these young people from being able to defend their own life.

Then there’s the fact that they simply don’t work. States with these laws still seem to have mass shootings, much like how states with red flag laws have them. The key to stopping mass shootings isn’t going to be found in restricting the rights of ordinary people.

While lawmakers desperately want to do something to address the issue of these shootings in our schools, no one should rush into accepting the first proposal. Bills created in a rush to address some kind of perceived threat rarely end up as good law.

That includes any mandatory storage bill.