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Democratic legislators renew push for stricter gun laws

men carrying guns in a belt holster
flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM
The Lansing library system says Michigan's open-carry of weapons law does not apply to its facilities.

Democrats in the Legislature – with the backing of Governor Gretchen Whitmer – are renewing a push for tougher gun laws.

The centerpiece of a bill package would require background checks of everyone who tries to buy a firearm in Michigan. It’s similar to a proposal being debated in Congress to expand background checks beyond what’s currently required under federal law.But Senator Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) says the state already has a system in place to do that. He says Michigan already conducts background checks on people who apply for concealed pistol licenses. He said that system could be easily expanded.

“The system works, the system is constitutional,” he said. "And we are just looking to add all firearms under the same system, the same background check system that works for responsible gun owners.”   

Republicans have generally pushed back against tighter gun laws.

House Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-Clare), via a spokesman, did not take an immediate position, but said he will leave it up to committee chairs to decide how to proceed once the bills are formally introduced.

State Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) has agreed to allow a hearing on a bill that would allow family members to seek a court order to temporarily confiscate firearms from someone deemed a danger. 

Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued a statement endorsing the legislation:

“The American gun lobby has sold the American people a false narrative that you have to pick one of two sides when it comes to gun laws. The reality is we can recognize the rights guaranteed to us by the 2nd Amendment and work to prevent gun violence. While no single law can prevent every instance of gun violence, this is a commonsense step forward. We cannot wait idly by for an act of gun violence to devastate our state to demand action. We must act now.”

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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