LANSING — State Representative Robert Wittenberg (D-Huntington Woods) introduced House Bill 5933 today, which would close a loophole that allows individuals to rent a firearm even if they cannot legally own one. The legislation would require a background check, conducted through the FBI’s National Instant Background Check System (NICS), before a firearm could be rented. NICS requires a driver’s license or other form of identification and takes only a few minutes to complete.
“The rules for renting a firearm should mirror the rules for buying one. You need a criminal background check to buy them from a federally licensed dealer in Michigan, so you should need that to rent one, too,” Rep. Wittenberg said. “That’s not the case right now, and it creates a dangerous loophole that has already led to tragic consequences. We need to pass this legislation immediately to prevent criminals from taking advantage of this loophole again.”
A woman was murdered in Lansing recently when her ex-boyfriend, who was unable to purchase a gun legally, rented a semi-automatic handgun at a local shooting range. Instead of returning it, however, he took it to his former girlfriend’s workplace and murdered her before turning the gun on himself. Despite the heinous nature of the crime, law enforcement officers determined that the owners of the shooting range had technically violated no laws in letting the man rent a weapon, whose ex-girlfriend had a restraining order against him.
Rep. Wittenberg is also the sponsor of House Bills 4706-7, the Extreme Risk Protection Order or “red flag” bills, which would allow law enforcement to seize firearms from people deemed to be a significant risk to themselves or others with a judge’s order. Such a law may have also prevented a tragedy like the one that happened in Lansing.
“Too many families have been devastated by the needless heartbreak of gun crimes that we often have the ability to prevent,” Rep. Wittenberg said. “Enacting this extremely basic provision is another way to do so. An overwhelming majority of Michiganders support universal background checks — this is simply another version of that sensible measure.”