We need more “good guys with guns” is a popular slogan from opponents of gun safety laws.

If you are a legislator who accepts that premise, wouldn’t you then want to be sure that the people with guns are actually “good guys”? Yet, currently, Michigan law only requires background checks for pistols.

Why not require checks for the purchase of any type of firearm? 

Bill packages recently introduced in the state senate and house would do just that. But sadly, so far, only Democrats have signed on to sponsor them, meaning not a single Republican has come forward to support this basic measure to keep us all safer.

“Given the violent displays of domestic extremism here in Michigan and across our country this past year, it should come as no surprise that our laws governing access to firearms are severely lacking,” Senator Rosemary Bayer said. “Our one job as legislators is to provide our communities with the safety and stability they deserve, and this includes amending the current laws so that people feel a sense of security in their homes, at work, in school, in houses of worship or anywhere they may be.”

The bills would also update other Michigan laws to reflect the changes to universal background checks.

“The impact of gun violence touches all of our communities, but the Legislature cannot continue to act as if there is nothing we can do about it — especially when proven measures like universal background checks could help keep guns out of the wrong hands,” Sen. Jeremy Moss said. “These are common-sense bills that most Americans support to prevent the next tragedy from occurring. Our colleagues must join us to pass these reforms to keep everyone in each of our districts safe.”

The legislation — Senate Bills 454 (Bayer), 455 (Chang), and 456 (Moss), and House Bills 4869 (Brabec), 4870 (Carter), and 4871 (Weiss) — also updates sentencing guidelines for a person who forges information on their firearm license application, provides a false statement on a firearms sales record, or knowingly sells a firearm without performing a background check.

According to the Giffords Law Center, more than 90% of the American people support background checks for all firearm sales, while a national survey shows that 45% of online gun buyers don’t undergo a background check of any kind.

“Michigan needs a stronger background check system to better protect communities across the state. On any given day, unlicensed sellers can sell guns without background checks online, at gun shows, and through unregulated person-to-person sales,” said Sean Holihan, state legislative director for the Giffords Law Center. “Closing these massive loopholes is backed by more than 90% of Americans — including the majority of Democrats, Republicans, Independents and gun owners — and it’s time for Congress and Michigan leaders to listen, and act to save lives.”

Michigan is one of only four states that requires a permit and a background check for all purchases of handguns, but not long guns. Currently, 12 states and Washington D.C. require universal background checks for all firearm sales. Of these, six rank among the 10 states with the least gun violence.

“Protecting the health and safety of all residents should be our state’s top priority, and that includes passing legislation with the potential to decrease gun violence,” Rep. Felicia Brabec said. “It’s time to update our laws to reflect the growing public support for universal background checks in Michigan.”

So What Can We Do?

We can start by calling the GOP members of the House Military, Veterans & Homeland Security Committee and urging them to support HB 4869 which would expand the requirement for a license for “pistols” to all firearms.

Another important thing you can do is join the survivors and honor the victims of gun violence this weekend June 4-6th for National Gun Violence Awareness Day and Wear Orange weekend.

Every year, more than 3,000 children and teens are shot and killed. This makes firearms the leading cause of children’s death in the US.

Hadiya Pendleton’s friends wore orange in her honor when she was shot and killed in Chicago at the age of 15 in 2013. Now orange is worn on the first Friday in June every year, not only by her loved ones but also by students in Montana, activists in New York, and thousands of caring people in cities across the nation. The color orange honors the more than 100 lives cut short by gun violence everyday.

Join Michigan state-wide gun-sense activists in events hosted by Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action,

Online Event: Sunday June 6th. 1pm. Sign up here: Everytown for Gun Safety Michigan

Live Events: Saturday, June 5th 12:00PM –  St. John’s Epsicopal Church Royal Oak, Michigan or Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1209 Hancock St. Saginaw, Mi 49602

For more information click here: Wear Orange Events

Representatives to Call:

Beau LaFave, Chair (R) 108th District

(517) 373-0156

Andrew Beeler Vice-Chair  (R), 83rd District

(517) 373-0835

Gary Eisen (R), 81st District

(517) 373-1790

Robert Bezotte (R), 47th District

(517) 373-8835

David Martin (R), 48th District

(517) 373-7557

Suggested Script for Calling Representatives

Hello, I am calling to encourage Rep. _____________ to support HB4869 to make sure that we know who the “good guys with guns” are by expanding universal background checks to all firearms, not just pistols. Not only are universal background checks proven to help keep guns out of the wrong hands, more than 90% of Americans — including the majority of Democrats, Republicans, Independents and gun owners  — support universal background checks, and it’s time for Michigan leaders to listen, and act to save lives.

References:

https://senatedems.com/moss/news/2021/05/17/legislators-announce-bills-for-universal-background-checks-on-guns/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2018/02/21/states-most-and-least-gun-violence-see-where-your-state-stacks-up/359395002/

https://giffords.org/lawcenter/gun-laws/policy-areas/background-checks/universal-background-checks/#state