Democratic Legislators Demand Action on Common-Sense Gun Safety Legislation

Call for action is urgent amid backdrop of mass shootings, lawsuits
Thursday, October 22, 2015

LANSING — Bills that take aim at the ongoing problem of gun violence in Michigan were the subject of a press conference held today in Lansing. State Representatives Jim Townsend (D-Royal Oak), Robert Wittenberg (D-Oak Park), Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) and Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) outlined their common-sense gun safety measures and called for action on their legislation.

“We’ve seen too many children die, too many parents grieve, too many neighbors witness firsthand the scourge of gun violence over and over,” Rep. Townsend said. “Critics will say it’s too soon after a mass shooting to talk about closing loopholes or enacting more effective background checks. In truth, it was too late for the victims of Sandy Hook, Aurora, Charleston and Roseburg. The only sensible approach is to act now before another tragedy happens.”

Bills in the gun safety package include:

  • House Bills 4261-2 (Reps. Schor and Rep. Jon Hoadley), which would close the “open carry” loophole in state law to prohibit the open carry of firearms on the premises of schools, hospitals, day care centers, entertainment facilities (with seating capacity of 2,500 or more), sports arenas and stadiums, bars, places of worship, and dorms and classrooms at community colleges and universities. This bill would also add libraries to the list of premises where concealed and open carry are prohibited.
  • HBs 4590, 4591 and 4592 (Rep. Townsend), which would close the private sale loophole to create universal background checks in Michigan. The private sale loophole allows for the legal purchase of long firearms online, at gun shows, and other private sales without first requiring the purchaser to pass a background check.
  • HBs 4942-3 (Rep. Wittenberg), which would create a Gun Violence Restraining Order. These bills are meant to prevent homicides and suicides by removing firearms from those whom are identified as someone clearly troubled and susceptible of doing harm to themselves and/or others. In these situations, these bills would allow a family member or close friend to request a Gun Violence Restraining Order.
  • HBs 4944-5 (Rep. Townsend and Rep. Chang), which would allow schools, hospitals, day care centers, entertainment facilities (with seating capacity of 2,500 or more), sports arenas and stadiums, bars, places of worship, and dorms and classrooms at community colleges and universities to prohibit the open carry of firearms on their property.

“My proposal won’t take guns away from anyone legally entitled to have them, but it will make sure people who have threatened violence can’t walk into a store and buy one, or use a gun they already own to harm themselves or others,” Rep. Wittenberg said. “As legislators, we have a duty to protect citizens. Taking weapons away from someone who has threatened violence is common sense.”

The bills are also a response to extremists in Michigan who are seeking to bring guns into schools and day care centers. For example, extremists have brought lawsuits against the Ann Arbor Public Schools and University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, seeking to bring weapons onto those campuses. The suit against the Ann Arbor Public Schools was dismissed last month, while the suit against the university is pending.

“It’s inconceivable to me that a child can’t bring a butter knife to school in their lunch box without facing suspension, while extremists are asserting they have a right to go into my child’s school with a rifle on their back,” Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) said. “We must take action to protect our kids, and allowing concealed firearms in schools increases the chance of an accident or a bad decision. We don’t want to turn our schools into a Home Depot parking lot.”

Instead of working on common-sense gun safety legislation, Republicans have done the opposite. For instance, Sen. Mike Green (R-Mayville) has introduced Senate Bill 442, which would allow anyone with a concealed carry permit to carry a concealed weapon in schools and day care centers. That bill was rushed through committee and is awaiting consideration in the Senate.

“As a new mother, it is a nightmare to imagine my daughter sitting in a school that could be legally prohibited from keeping weapons out of classrooms,” Rep. Chang said. “Across the country and across our state, people are crying out for sensible gun safety measures. It’s time we delivered, and I urge all of my colleagues to support this legislation.”