By STEPHEN INGBER
Capital News Service
LANSING – Would you let your child handle a pistol if you were not present?
Legislation introduced in the House would allow youth in a camp-like setting to receive firearms instruction and safety training from professional instructors without parent or guardian supervision.
Currently the Boy Scouts offer rifle and shotgun instruction from professionals but the bill would allow Scouts to begin practicing with handguns.
Rep. Phil Potvin, R-Cadillac, introduced the legislation.
“Scouting, shooting and hunting are things that are deeply ingrained in the heritage of our life in northern and mid-Michigan, “Potvin said. “This bill would allow Scouts in Michigan to not only continue those traditions, but to do so in a responsible way by receiving proper training from nationally certified firearms instructors.”
Current law states that a parent or guardian must be present at shooting ranges or any other public facilities when minors handle firearms.
The Michigan Boy Scouts Crossroads Council based in Flint was awarded a pilot program that would permit youth to practice with pistols in addition to rifles and shotguns. Michigan was one out of eight states approved for the program by the national Boy Scouts administration.
“We are happy that we received this program but saw the need for legislation because not all parents can attend a Scouting camp,” said Frank Reigelman, outdoor director for the Crossroads Council. “Adding pistol training offers a new level of marksmanship, as well as additional safe handling training to our Scouts.”
A Potvin aide said it does not make sense for parents or guardians to have to return to a camp setting when the organization already has professional instructors onsite.
And Steven Dulan of East Lansing, an attorney for the Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners, said, “This is a common sense bill.”
Parents already leave their children in the hands of other adults in camp situations. The proposed law would make instructors responsible for minors while handling firearms, specifically handguns, Dulan said.
“Having a trained professional in these camp settings is beneficial to firearms safety,” said Rep. Ben Glardon, R-Owosso, a sponsor.
Representatives of the Michigan chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America did not return phone calls for comment.
The bill is pending in the House Natural Resources Committee.
Other sponsors include: Reps. Jon Bumstead, R-Newaygo; Bruce R. Rendon, R-Lake City; Wayne A. Schmidt, R-Traverse City; Joseph Graves, R-Argentine Township; and Matt Lori, R-Constantine.
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