Bills would eliminate concealed-carry regulations

By LAURA BOHANNON
Capital News Service

LANSING — Some lawmakers are working to remove the licensing requirement for concealed pistol carriers.

Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona, has introduced bills to eliminate concealed pistol license, or CPL, laws.

Cole said he doesn’t want to make it easier to obtain a gun or loosen those regulations, but he wants to ensure that “law-abiding citizens” don’t need to jump through hoops to carry a concealed pistol for self-defense.

“The idea is to promote constitutional freedom,” Cole said.

Cole also argues that current law can create “inadvertent criminals.”

“I have a CPL, my wife does not. Right now, technically, she has access to several of my handguns,” Cole said.

Cole said it could be a felony for his wife to be at home in the presence of his guns since they aren’t registered to her.

Others aren’t sure Cole’s concerns are warranted.

Rep. Jon Hoadley, D-Kalamazoo, said that after checking with his legal counsel, he doesn’t think Cole’s definition of possession would stand up in court, and being in a house with someone else’s gun wouldn’t constitute a felony.

Linda Brundage, the executive director of the Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, said she thinks these bills could be dangerous since CPL licenses come with mandatory training for gun owners.

“It’s essentially gun-lobby driven,” Brundage said. “We’re seeing this type of legislation that allows more guns by more people in more places, which only leads to more death.

“I think not having CPL training is ridiculous,” Brundage said. “You have to take driver’s education to drive a car.”

Rep. Shane Hernandez, R-Port Huron, said that in some states with no CPL regulations, a greater number of people seek out training than before.

He said this is because the facilities that offer training no longer have built-in business with mandatory regulations, and they need to market themselves more aggressively.

Brundage said she would rather see Michigan move in the opposite direction: toward universal background checks and mandatory training for all gun owners, not just people with CPLs.

“No kind of legislation is going to prevent all gun tragedy, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take care of who owns them, what the circumstances are, where they can take them,” Brundage said.

Hoadley, who is the vice chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, agreed.

“This idea, to allow more people to have guns in more places without ensuring proper safety training requirements, has a significant risk of increasing violence,” Hoadley said. “And I think we should proceed very cautiously.”

Hernandez said Michigan’s current laws are too burdensome for gun owners. For instance, he said, if someone’s shirt comes untucked and covers his or her weapon, that person is technically breaking the law if he or she doesn’t have a CPL.

“Did that person just become more dangerous?” Hernandez asked.

Hoadley said that people who accidentally conceal their weapons might, in fact, pose a threat.

“What we’re talking about is some folks who, while possessing firearms, may inadvertently forget that they even have a firearm on their person then become in violation of the law,” Hoadley said. “I think that actually raises the bigger question that we’re talking about firearms and folks should be using those responsibly.”

Hoadley said this legislation is cherry-picking “unique and hypothetical situations that to my knowledge have never been prosecuted.”

“This bill would remove one of the checks and balances to ensure that folks who are taking weapons into crowded areas have some level of training that will help them use that firearm responsibly,” Hoadley said.

Someone who is intent on breaking the law wouldn’t go through the process of getting a CPL anyway, Hernandez and Cole said.

“By putting more of those laws in that only law-abiding citizens will follow, did we prevent more crime? Not really,” Cole said.

Brundage said the state should work at making it more difficult to allow more people to have more guns in more places. She also said it should be clear that the Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence is not anti-gun, but pro-safety.

“We’re not coming after guns. We want them to be bought responsibly and locked when they’re not in use,” she said.

Hoadley agreed.

“I appreciate that folks feel really passionately about these issues,” Hoadley said. “I think that one thing I’ll agree on is that we have a Second Amendment, there is a right to keep and bear arms ‘for the purpose of a well-regulated militia.’ So what we know is that as folks framed this, they said with this right comes some responsibility.

“And the thing I want to make sure is that as we continue to ensure that folks can access this right, that we don’t abdicate our responsibility to have the well-regulated part.”