By JASON KRAFT
Capital News Service
LANSING – Michigan residents could carry concealed handguns without a permit under a recently proposed package of four bills.
After previously failed attempts to pass similar legislation, the lawmakers “started from scratch and proposed what we believe is the best language,” said co-sponsor Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Larkin Township. More so now than any time in recent history, people face a threat to personal and public safety, Glenn said.
“The more law-abiding citizens who are armed and able to defend themselves and those around them, the better,” Glenn said.
Linda Brundage, executive director of the Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, said the lawmakers hope persistence will win out.
“They hope to have gained enough momentum and followers, and they hope to wear gun-sense people down,” Brundage said.
Gun control advocates say “gun sense” is the belief that more can be done to keep families and communities safe from gun violence in America.
The bills, co-sponsored by Reps. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona, and Aaron Miller, R-Sturgis, among others, would loosen Michigan’s gun policy after stricter regulations were handed down by the Obama administration in December.
“Currently, if you’re legally qualified, meaning you’re not convicted of certain crimes or have certain mental illnesses, you can carry a handgun openly on your hip anywhere [in Michigan] with no training requirement or permit,” Glenn said. “A permit is only required if it’s a concealed weapon.”
Handguns are prohibited in schools, day care centers, sports arenas, taverns where the primary source of income is the sale of alcohol, any place of worship, entertainment facilities that have a seating capacity of 2,500 or more, hospitals, dormitories, classrooms of a community college, college or university, and casinos.
Concealed carry is the practice of carrying a hidden weapon in public.
“You’re required to have eight hours of training and pay the government a fee just to put your coat over a weapon,” said Glenn. “That doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.”
This could be considered an infringement on the right to bear arms under the U.S. constitution, Glenn said. “It’s pretty clear language, and when you require someone to take eight hours of training and pay a fee to wear a jacket over a gun, arguably, that’s an infringement on the Second Amendment.”
Michigan would not be the first state to adopt a law allowing concealed carry without a permit.
Six states have such ‘constitutional carry’ laws in place, said Glenn. “Vermont has for decades, which has one of the lowest rates of gun violence in the country.”
The bills are opposed by the Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence.
“It’s a ridiculous set of legislation. It’s not what the people of Michigan want,” Brundage said. “This legislation would make Michigan much more dangerous. It’ll drive us closer to a vigilante society.”
To obtain a concealed pistol license people pay $100 and go through a background check.
“This legislation is part of the guns anywhere, anytime, by anybody [idea],” Brundage said. “Forty percent of guns sold in the U.S. are sold without a background check. There have been numerous surveys that indicate Michigan people want background checks, and this is another way to circumvent the background check system.”
In eliminating the need for a CPL, Michigan would no longer require background checks for handgun owners.
Glenn said he believes that if the bills are approved, they’ll make Michigan safer.
“This is not the 21st century that we expected or wanted, but the reality of today’s world is that even in America we have the threat – the proven threat – of terrorist activity,” Glenn said. “It doesn’t matter what our laws say. People for whatever reason do not obey the laws.”
By JASON KRAFT