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Michigan House passes emergency order gun bills

Revolvers on the counter of a gun shop.
Dmitriy_Tolmachov/DmyTo - stock.adobe.com
Governor Gretchen Whitmer put a pause on non-essential operations, including the sale of guns, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michigan House lawmakers Thursday passed bills limiting the governor’s emergency powers when it comes to gun restrictions.

The bills are a response to Governor Gretchen Whitmer signing executive orders putting some operations deemed non-essential, like pistol licensing and fingerprinting, on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republican State Representative Beau LaFave said he feels that decision and others temporarily closing gun stores backfired.

“You do not tell people that they can’t buy guns or should not buy guns if you want to slow down congregation in gun stores. It will just have the opposite result,” LaFave said.

Opponents of the legislation say it hamstrings public officials’ ability to respond to future pandemics.

“There may be another public health emergency that we don’t know today that warrants temporarily pausing activities that contribute to the spread of disease. Let’s give the Ph.D.s, the scientists, the health officers who know best, the ability to use science and data to keep us all safe,” said Rep. Julie Rogers (D-Kalamazoo).

The bill, SB 11, now goes to the governor.

Meanwhile, State Rep. Andrew Fink (R-Hillsdale) said the governor infringed upon Second Amendment rights when she temporarily restricted gun-selling operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A bill package he co-sponsored would keep the governor from using an emergency or disaster declaration to suspend any firearm retail operations.

“The citizen is the most fundamental unit of government in our country and respecting their rights even when it’s difficult for the government is the entire basis of our system,” Fink said.