State Rep. Prestin critical of Michigan gun bills
LANSING — State Rep. Dave Prestin said law-abiding gun owners and hunters would face burdensome requirements if gun bills passed by the state Senate becomes law in Michigan.
Michigan Democrats took their first steps in passing a sweeping 11-bill gun safety package Thursday as red flag laws and requirements for safe storage and universal background checks all cleared the Senate along party lines. Senators approved a bulk of the package on a 20-17 party line vote, sending it to the Democratic-led House where it can be brought up as early as next week. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has said that she will sign the legislation.
Prestin, of Cedar River voted against House Bills 4138, 4142 and 4143. The legislation requires universal background checks for all firearm transfers and establishes new licensing requirements for hunting rifles and shot guns.
“This plan aims to address the rise in gun violence in Michigan, but completely misses the mark,” Prestin said. “The plan creates a false sense of security for Michiganders, and infringes on the rights of responsible, law-abiding gun owners throughout the state without actually doing anything to address the real problem – the rise of violent crime in Michigan.”
Prestin expressed concerns about the effect the legislation could have on hunters throughout the state, as sales of long guns are more heavily scrutinized. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reported last year that the state has lost a quarter of a million hunters over the past generation.
“Hunting is part of our heritage in Michigan, not just a hobby,” Prestin said. “Requiring a background check on every single firearm purchase is impractical and creates unnecessary burdens for law-abiding hunters. It will deter good, honest Michiganders from hunting, or even handing down special firearms as heirlooms – a common practice among gun-owning families,” Presin said. “We must address the root-cause contributing to the rise in gun violence: improving access to reliable mental health services, enhancing school security, and promoting the nuclear family instead of constantly eroding the American family unit, and its inherent values we grew up learning.”
Democrats in the House approved the bills with a 56-53, party-line vote.
Michigan law requires someone buying firearms such as rifles or shotguns to be 18 years or older and at least 21 years old to purchase a handgun from a federally licensed dealer. Certain licenses allow 18-year-olds to purchase handguns from private sellers.
Legislation passed Thursday would require anyone purchasing a rifle or shotgun to undergo a background check, which is currently only required for handgun purchases, and to register for any firearm purchase. It would also implement safe storage laws, which would create “penalties for storing or leaving a firearm where it may be accessed by a minor.”
Republicans were most vocal on the Senate floor Thursday in opposing red flag laws, also known as extreme risk protection orders. Red flag laws are intended to temporarily remove guns from people with potentially violent behavior and prevent them from hurting themselves or others.