LANSING — House Democrats are calling for immediate action on bills that would protect public safety and ensure that all Michiganders receive equal protection in our state. In the aftermath of the nation’s largest mass shooting, which targeted members of the LGBT community, Michigan can’t wait any longer to enact common-sense safety measures or to extend civil rights protections to people who are more likely to be targeted by hate crimes.
“People around the state and around the nation are crying out for common-sense gun safety measures because they have seen too many lives cut short by an unending wave of violence,” Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) said. “The House Democrats have offered several bills that would put safeguards in place, but these proposals haven’t had a hearing in committee. We can take action now to stop this senseless loss of life, before another tragedy occurs.”
Proposals offered by House Democrats include:
- House Bills 4261-2, 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, 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, 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, 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.
- HB 5443, which would prohibit individuals on the federal terrorist watch list from being issued a license to possess a firearm.
- HBs 5563-4, which would make buildings owned or leased by the state gun-free zones.
“None of these measures take away from our Second Amendment right to own a gun,” Rep. Robert Wittenberg (D-Oak Park) said. “Instead, they regulate the safe use of firearms and ensure that those who aren’t fit to have a weapon — such as a suspected terrorist or a person who has threatened violence against a spouse — can’t walk into a store to buy one.”
House Democrats have also introduced legislation that would protect members of Michigan’s LGBT community. Michigan has not extended civil rights protections to these people, which makes it legal to fire a person for being gay or deny housing to a transgender person. While those bills sit in committee, legislative Republicans have introduced bills that would ban transgender people from using the appropriate restroom, setting transgender people up for further harassment, bullying and abuse.
The House Democrat legislation includes:
- HB 4164, which would expand the state’s hate crime law to include intimidation or hate crimes based on age, physical disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression.
- HB 4538, which would expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
In addition, House Democrats have worked to repeal HBs 4188-4190, which allow private adoption agencies that receive state funds to discriminate against LGBT parents, and are fighting to defeat HB 5717, which would undo local ordinances protecting transgender people. House Democrats also introduced House Resolution 101 of 2015 and HR 307 of 2016, which would have declared June as LGBT Pride Month in Michigan. Both resolutions expired in committee.
“The Orlando shooting was the end result of hatred and divisiveness that casts members of the LGBT community as dangerous outsiders, when in truth, all we want is to live our lives safely and with dignity,” Rep. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) said. “Michigan House Republicans instead embrace and expand legislation to further dehumanize our state’s LGBT community, which could lead to increased threats, hatred and worse. We must take a strong action to make sure that this kind of deadly intolerance isn’t welcome here.”
State Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) said she is committed to fighting for common-sense gun safety laws and measures extending civil rights protections to the entire LGBT community.
“As a new mother, my heart breaks for the families of those whose lives were cruelly cut short,” she said. “No mother should ever have to lose her child to hatred fueled by homophobia or racism. People across the state are demanding that we enact common-sense safety measures and protect all of our residents, and it’s time for us to take action.”