LANSING, Mich., March 7, 2023 — State Reps. Phil Skaggs (D-East Grand Rapids) and Kristian Grant (D-Grand Rapids) introduced legislation today — House Bills 4205 and 4206 — aiming to curb assault weapon violence by prohibiting the open carry of an assault weapon within 1,000 feet of a federal, state, county or local government building. Those who knowingly carry an assault weapon within this zone would be guilty of a punishable crime; the legislation establishes misdemeanor penalties for first and second offenses, and a five-year felony for third and subsequent offenses.
These bills aim to accomplish two major goals — decrease the chances that war weapons are used to threaten elected officials, judges, government staff and Michiganders attending public meetings; and second, help protect educators, students and staff at public schools and universities. Currently, no law exists in Michigan that prohibits individuals from openly carrying assault weapons on school property or within eyesight of schools.
“In this era of increasing political tensions and terror attacks, it is important to ensure government officials and residents can safely go about their business without fear of intimidation by those wielding assault weapons,” Skaggs said. “We all remember April 2020, when radical militia gunmen, armed with assault rifles, entered the Senate gallery to intimidate senators who were legislating on the floor. We also remember January 2021, when armed insurrectionists invaded the U.S. Capitol to throw out a legal election and overthrow our very republic. Even in my past role as a Kent County commissioner, I have had my life threatened because I supported certain policies that some opposed. We must not allow those who openly carry assault weapons to engage in political intimidation, as it undermines our democratic republic. That’s why it is crucial we pass this legislation.”
These unusually dangerous firearms also expose law enforcement officers to heightened risk from individuals wielding high-powered, combat-grade weapons. If passed, this legislation would give law enforcement officers the necessary tools to protect themselves and the public in situations where assault weapons are openly present on or near school buildings.
“Assault weapons were designed for battlefield combat — they are not meant to be in our local neighborhoods where kids are walking to school and everyday folks are doing their jobs,” Grant said. “This legislation keeps the open display of weapons of war out of places where they have no reason to be in the first place. Our goal is to protect the people of Michigan and enforce commonsense laws.”
House Democrats have acted deftly in response to the Feb. 13 mass shooting at Michigan State University, which left three students dead and five in critical condition. The assault weapon bills sponsored by Skaggs and Grant were introduced shortly after the introduction of a gun reform legislative package focusing on tackling gun violence by way of universal background checks, safe storage laws and extreme risk protection orders. Since gaining control of the chamber in January, Michigan House Democrats have moved at a historic pace, passing more bills during the first month of the term than during the first months of the last six terms combined — all of which were terms when Republicans held the majority.