Last week, the Michigan Legislature adjourned for its summer recess after a successful start to the 2014 legislative session. To date, the state legislature has passed eight NRA-supported bills and many other bills have seen positive movement through the legislative process this year. Of the eight NRA-supported bills, seven passed last week and are now awaiting the signature of Governor Rick Snyder (R). A review of the legislative activity in Lansing this year is provided below. With your support, your NRA-ILA will continue to fight for pro-gun/pro-hunting reforms for all law-abiding gun owners and sportsmen throughout Michigan.
SIGNED INTO LAW:
On March 27, Governor Rick Snyder (R) signed Senate Bill 610 into law, making it Public Act 63 of 2014. SB 610, sponsored by state Senator Michael Green (R-31), repeals Michigan’s ban on the private ownership of short-barreled rifles and shotguns. Short-barreled rifles and shotguns are already strictly regulated under the National Firearms Act, requiring their buyers to undergo a background check, pay a $200 federal tax and register these firearms with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. SB 610 conforms Michigan law to federal law and aligns Michigan with a large majority of states that already allow their residents to possess these firearms.
PASSED IN THE STATE LEGISLATURE AND AWAITING SIGNATURE INTO LAW:
Collectively, the Firearms Records Confidentiality Package mandates that information submitted to the government for purposes of firearms licensing, registration and concealed carry permitting is confidential and not subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. This package also ensures that the only acceptable disclosure of the information contained in an individual’s firearms records is limited to times when law enforcement believes that: (1) the firearm was used in the commission of a crime; (2) that the individual whose record is being accessed has committed a crime or is a threat to himself, herself or other individuals; or (3) when the safety of the peace officer is at issue. These bills ensure that law-abiding gun owners will not face unwarranted discrimination or suspicion for exercising their constitutional right to keep and bear arms.
HB 5085, sponsored by state Representative Phil Potvin (R-102), corrects an unduly burdensome restraint on youth firearm education by reasonably expanding the class of individuals who are allowed to supervise and instruct Michigan youth on the safe use of pistols. Under current Michigan law, an individual who is under the age of 18 is prohibited from possessing a pistol “for the purposes of target practice or instruction in the safe use,” unless the “person’s parent or guardian is physically present and supervising the person.” As a result, responsible family members, close friends, range instructors and youth organizations (e.g. Boy Scouts of America) are all effectively precluded from supervising and instructing on the safe use of a pistol in a controlled environment. HB 5085 would allow some of the aforementioned classes of individuals to provide pistol training and safety instruction to Michigan’s youth, while also ensuring that supervision is conducted by a responsible adult. HB 5085 achieves this goal by amending the current law to provide that an individual who is 21 years or older, has successfully completed a state certified pistol training course and has received parental authorization, may supervise and provide pistol instruction to a minor at a target range.
PASSED IN THE SENATE:
Senate Bill 789, introduced by state Senator Mike Green (R-31), is important legislation that seeks to create a more efficient, consistent and expedient concealed pistol licensing system for the citizens in Michigan. SB 789 also creates a true “shall issue” licensing system for all statutorily eligible Michiganders. SB 789 accomplishes this goal by eliminating county concealed weapon licensing boards as well as the discretionary licensing authority currently held by those boards. With the elimination of the county licensing boards, county clerks would administer the concealed weapon licensing process. Background checks that are statutorily required to obtain a Concealed Pistol License (CPL) would be conducted by the Michigan State Police (MSP). However, the MSP would not retain the discretionary authority currently held by the county licensing boards since SB 789 mandates that all persons who statutorily qualify for a CPL (i.e. not prohibited under 28.425b and satisfy all financial and submission obligations) would receive a license.
Furthermore, SB 789 provides enhanced avenues for redressing licensing delays, wrongful denials and restoration of rights. Under SB 789, the county clerks and MSP have 45 days—beginning on the date fingerprints are taken—to either issue a CPL or provide a notice of disqualification. If the licensing authority fails to comply with the 45-day requirement, the individual’s fingerprint receipt and driver’s license will serve as a temporary license. For renewals, the expired license will serve as the temporary license. SB 789 also provides an avenue to appeal for wrongful denials and petitions for restoration of rights through circuit courts.
PASSED IN THE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE:
Senate Bill 977, introduced by state Senator John Moolenaar (R-36), seeks to provide active duty military personnel, who are on duty orders outside of the state, with the option to renew their concealed pistol license (CPL) via mail. Under current Michigan law, individuals who are seeking to renew their CPL are required to submit the renewal application in person. As a result, many resident active duty military CPL holders who are stationed outside of Michigan are effectively prohibited from renewing their license in a manner that allows them to maintain continuity of their concealed carry benefits.
SB 977 also standardizes the delivery method by which county clerks disseminate renewal CPLs. Under SB 977, the county clerks will be required to distribute approved renewal licenses via first-class mail. As a result, active duty military personnel will also have the option to have their renewal CPL sent directly to their duty station. This is especially important for those individuals who are stationed in one of the forty states that have entered into a reciprocal agreement to recognize Michigan’s CPL; as it will allow them to lawfully exercise their Second Amendment rights when travelling off-base.
Collectively, the Air Gun Reclassification Package represents a package of bills that seek to redefine the term “firearm” in the Michigan Code to exclude devices that propel a projectile by gas, spring or air. Michigan law imposes an unduly burdensome restraint on the transfer, purchase and possession of most air guns. Under current law, a vast majority of air guns—including all pellet guns and air-soft guns—qualify as firearms. As a result, the same restrictions that apply to the transfer, purchase and possession of firearms also apply to air guns; including licensing and registration. Michigan is one of only four states that classify most air guns as firearms.
This package of bills, which also includes Senate Bill 979, would align Michigan’s definition of “firearm” with the federal definition; such that “firearm” would be redefined to mean “any weapon which will, is designed to, or may be readily converted to expel a projectile by action of an explosive.” SB 979 would then create a new definition for air guns. Grouping air guns under the broader term “pneumatic guns,” to account for certain devices that propel projectiles by action of a spring, SB 979 would allow for local units of government to reasonably regulate the use and possession of “pneumatic guns;” with the exception that these devices cannot be regulated on private property where authorization is given and the possessor takes precautionary measures to ensure that the projectile remains within the bounds of the property.
It is important that you contact your state Senator and express your support for SB 979, which is still awaiting a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Respectfully tell your Senator that you support the Air Gun Reclassification Package and reasonable local control of air guns. Contact information for members of the Michigan Senate can be found here.
If your state legislator voted for all of these bills, please call and thank them for supporting the Second Amendment rights of Michiganders. Contact information for members of the Michigan Legislature can be found here.
Be assured that your NRA is keeping a close watch on legislation that is still awaiting further consideration or signature. Keep an eye on your email and www.nraila.org for updates.