The life and times of Michigan House Bill 5225

So I’ve been poking around on HB 5225 and babies, it ain’t pretty.  Imma walk you through it.

HB 5225 was dumped on us by Paul Opsommer, who’s termed out this year.  The bill was introduced in the House in December of last year, eventually it passed out of the House with immediate effect (shocking) 74-36.  The bill then went to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which ultimately sent the bill to the Senate with the recommendation that the bill pass.

Here’s a quick & dirty on what this bill will do:

  • Repeal the requirement to obtain a permit to purchase a handgun.  (This is the “gun permit” that you get from the Sheriff; you have to use it within 10 days in order to buy your handgun)
  • Require the local law enforcement agencies to destroy their “gun permit” records within 6 months, and provide evidence to the state that they have done so.  If the permit is being used as evidence in a trial, the permit doesn’t have to be destroyed until after it is no longer being held as evidence.  In the event that records are being held in evidence, the local law enforcement agency has to provide records of the records that are being kept.  (for real, go read it!)  These records must be presented to the State Senate and the State House of Representatives.
  • Companion bills 5498 and 5499 deal with eliminating the penalties for violating the laws that are being repealed by 5225.  Right now the bills are sitting still in the Senate.  More on that later.

Before I continue, allow me to disclose:  I have guns.  I like them.  I feel safe with them.  Someday I will get around to getting that concealed carry permit, and while I don’t expect to carry on a regular basis, I still want the option.  I support the right to bear arms and the right to bear concealed arms.  But I also support regulation on guns AND I want local law enforcement to be a point of contact for gun purchases.  This is a SMART way to do things.

Ok, moving on.

5225 seeks to eliminate the local law enforcement point of contact.  The “thinking” behind this is that federal law requires a seller to check NICS prior to selling a gun to a buyer.  It is state law in Michigan that adds the gun permit at the local level.  Thus, the local gun permit is redundant and a violation of the rights that our Founders intended for us, praise God.

Setting aside the arguments on what the Founders intended, praise God, let’s just look at little 5225 and what his life has been like so far.

I’m not sure what jackass wrote this bill (cough ALEC cough) but there were some legitimate concerns (right and left) with the original language.  For example, the section that spells out the qualifications to “purchase, carry, possess, or transport …” read as follows:

The person is a citizen of the United States and is a legal resident of this state.

The original language (found here) prohibited non US citizens from qualification.   This was a problem because of this little footnote to the Michigan Firearms Act (Act 372 of 1927) …

Constitutionality: The Michigan Court of Appeals held in Chan v City of Troy, 220 Mich App 376; 559 NW2d 374 (1997), that the citizen requirement, now MCL 28.422(3)(c), for a permit to purchase a pistol contained in MCL 28.422(3)(b) violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and is unconstitutional.

So right off the bat we’ve got a problem with sloppy writing.  Fortunately the NRA is here to save the day:

From Representative Paul Opsommer to Phillip Hofmeister, President of Michigan Open Carry, Inc..

Hello Phillip

[…] Matt Dogali with the NRA has also had some discussions with me regarding exceptions to these federal rules, especially in regards to needing to have knowledge that a school is in the area (for people visiting an area) or for people that have no choice but be by a school they are aware of (ie, they live by one). We have been using NRA legal counsel as we look at this issue, and I noticed you cc:ed Matt with the NRA on your previous email. If you could send him some of the alternatives you alluded to in your email that would be helpful.

TLDR:

Please send your ideas to the NRA because we’re using their lawyers.

So the NRA fixed that citizenship / constitutionality issue prior to passage by the House.  5225 in its current form can be found here.  Feel free to compare to NRA’s proposal here.

Now according to people “in the know” there was some back-channel discussion on trading the local law enforcement permits for a Firearms Owner Identification Card (FOID).  This would have been similar to the FOID system in Illinois.  I’m not sure if there are still conversations on this or if it was just a short-lived idea or what.  Keep an eye out for this; if this conversation goes much further it could kill this bill.  Most gun owners would much prefer a permit system to a FOID card, though many are genuinely opposed to both.

As the bill worked through the House, there were a handful of organizations lining up on each side.  From the House Fiscal Agency Analysis:

  • The NRA-ILA has indicated support for House Bill 5225.  (5-24-12)
  • The Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) has indicated support for House Bill 5225.  (5-24-12)
  • The Michigan State Police has indicated opposition to House Bill 5225.  (5-24-12)
  • The State of Michigan Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention and Treatment Board indicated opposition to House Bill 5225.  (5-24-12)

Ok so the bill passed out of the House and landed in the Senate where it was sent to the Committee on Judiciary (chaired by Rick “Pimp Daddy” Jones).  Judiciary then recommended that the bill pass and be given immediate effect.

The bill is now sitting in the Senate, waiting for someone to put it on the agenda.  Gongwer reports that several Michigan Mayors are urging the legislature and Governor Snyder to reject 5225:

“This bill would make it easier for convicted criminals and persons with severe mental illness to obtain deadly weapons, and make it more difficult for our police officers to protect themselves and our communities,” the letter from eight mayors to Governor Rick Snyder, Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe), Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) and Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker (R-Lawton) says. “According to the most recently available data, there are 440 gun murders in Michigan every year – more than one per day. Since 2010, seven Michigan law enforcement officials have been shot and killed. Given this terrible loss of life, we are dismayed that our state legislature is considering efforts to undermine our critical public safety laws.”

According to a spokesperson for the Senate GOP, there is no plan or timeline to act on 5225.

Michigan Public Radio has also reported that Governor Snyder is not likely to support the bill if/when it hits his desk:

“Governor Rick Snyder says he won’t support new legislation to make it easier to buy handguns. … The Governor says he’s concerned it would make it too easy for the wrong people to buy handguns.”

I’m trying to shorten up this article so I’m leaving out a handful of pretty important things.  For example, 5225 would screw up the state level exemption process for Federal Gun Free Zones.  Due to issues like this, some gun advocacy groups are remaining neutral on the bill.  This should not be taken as neutrality on the gun permit system, which most gun advocacy groups oppose.

I’ll be talking about this issue tomorrow morning at 8.35am with Tony Trupiano.  Feel free to call in or tweet @tonytrupiano if you have questions or comments.  I’m not a 2nd Amendment expert so if you are, please chime in.

 

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  • Brad Peirson

    Your arguments make sense, except that the current method of handling gun registration is a direct violation of the second amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. The wording “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” is quite clear. There is no constitutional requirement for any citizen to register any firearm, long or short, with the government. There ESPECIALLY is no requirement for an American citizen to ask the government’s permission prior to purchasing said firearm.

    Regardless of the unconstitutional and therefore illegal nature of the current registration requirements consideration must also be given to the practical implications: handgun registration doesn’t stop crime. Our legislatures pass bills under the assumption that the people will actually obey the new bill. Criminals, however, break the law. That’s a key element of the definition of the word criminal. Simply requiring that “all” handguns be registered is not going to stop someone from intentionally disobeying the law. This can be seen in the fact that Flint and Detroit, both Michigan cities and therefore both cities where residents are REQUIRED to register handguns, annually appear on the FBI’s list of cities with the highest rates of violent crime. If registration were a cure for gun related crimes shouldn’t these be two of the cities with the LOWEST violent crime rate?

    • http://www.bloggingformichigan.com Christine

      Hi, thanks for your comment. Registration is not an infringement, all it does is define the process under which the right to bear arms is exercised. I suspect that’s the quintessential point of contention between us and we’re not going to find common ground on that. As far as registration stopping crime, it certainly helps solve crimes, and this is acknowledged in part by the fact that 5225 carves out an exemption for registration information that is currently held in evidence. And if laws didn’t help stop someone from intentionally disobeying the law, then why have any rule of law to begin with?

      • Joe Cushing

        To infringe is to limit or restrict. How does making somebody jump through hoops not limit or restrict? Red tape certainly puts a limit on people’s rights. Say for example a person is out at the gun show to buy a long gun and sees a hand gun he wants. AWWW snap, I can’t buy this gun because I didn’t get permission from the government to buy it. What a load of crap that is. It certainly is a limit and therefore an infringement. All gun laws are infringements. To infringe is not to take away a right entirely, it’s to make any kind of encroachment on it what so ever. The fact that the red tape involved in getting permits makes it more difficult to keep and bear arms is an infringement.

        • http://www.bloggingformichigan.com Christine

          Well if we can’t agree on a modern interpretation of the word “infringe” that will offer some reasonable protection to society, then I don’t mind amending the Constitution to take “infringe” out of the 2nd amendment.

      • nitrous_bob

        if we just had laws that made killing, raping, and murder illegal….some punishible by death
        then no one would do it right ?

        or would they find ways to skirt the existing laws, with no care to the punishment ?

        meanwhile, “new’ gun laws only impact law abiding citizens

        • Christine

          Well since people still kill, rape, murder, etc., then we should get rid of the laws that make those things illegal, by your logic.

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