Michigan passes ‘safe storage’ gun bill; state GOP likens it to Nazism
April 25: Livingston declares itself ‘Constitutional County’ to resist gun reforms
April 19: Michigan ‘red flag’ gun reform plan heads to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
April 13: Whitmer signs gun safe storage, background check bills; ‘red flag’ vote next
March 29: Democratic gun safety laws met with a shrug in Michigan gun country
March 27: Michigan is passing gun safety laws. Most counties may not enforce them
LANSING — The Michigan House approve legislation Wednesday requiring gun owners to keep weapons locked or unloaded around minor children, the latest in an ongoing push by Democrats to reform Michigan gun laws.
The legislation, which passed 61-47, would generally require gun owners to keep weapons in safes or locked containers, or keep them unloaded with a trigger lock or cable lock to prevent accidental firing, if they are in a home or other building where minors under 18 could access them.
Other bills in the package would to exempt gun safes, locking devices and other gun safety devices from state taxes with some Republican support.
The debate became even more incendiary Wednesday, when the Michigan Republican Party likened gun control to the Holocaust, tweeting a photo of rings collected by Nazis from Holocaust victims with the caption “Before they collected all these wedding rings…they collected all the guns.”
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The safe storage legislation is part of a package lawmakers are currently debating to require universal background checks for gun purchases, safe storage and red flag laws allowing judges to temporarily confiscate a gun from someone posing a risk to others or themselves.
On Wednesday, Rep. Kelly Breen, D-Novi, said lawmakers were still working through substitutes on red flag and background check bills.
The safe storage law will return to the Senate for further review before going to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who supports the legislation.
Here’s what to know about safe storage:
Under the safe storage legislation, if an owner fails to properly store a gun, and that gun is used by a minor to kill themselves or others, the owner could be charged with a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $7,500 fine. If a minor uses the gun to injure someone, the owner could face a five-year felony charge.
As in the Senate, earlier versions of the safe storage legislation would have also removed blanket legal immunity for gun manufacturers or dealers who make or sell a gun used in the commission of a crime.
But Democrats amended the legislation on Wednesday to retain those immunity provisions, which largely mirror federal law.
“Saving lives is why I support these bills,” Rep. Sharon MacDonell, D-Troy, said on the floor, arguing the legislation could prevent suicides and other gun deaths.
Supporters have pointed to the case of Ethan Crumbley, an Oxford High School student who has pleaded guilty to murdering four classmates in 2021 with a gun purchased for him by his parents.
His parents face involuntary manslaughter charges on allegations they failed to secure the gun used in the shooting and ignored multiple warning signs.
House Republican Leader Matt Hall, R-Richland Township, was one of the several Republicans who supported the legislation, calling the bills “reasonable” after efforts to do away with immunity for manufacturers were removed from the plan.
“We defeated this harmful proposal, ensured common-sense protections for the rights of gun owners, and limited the legislation to keep guns in the hands of responsible adults and out of the hands of children,” he said in a statement.
What opponents say
Opponents argued the legislation would infringe on the rights of gun owners and limit their options to defend themselves from an intruder.
“It is not the job of the state government to regulate my safely, legally owned property I use in the privacy of my own home,” said Rep. Gina Johnsen, R-Lake Odessa.
Rep. Andrew Fink, R-Hillsdale, told reporters Wednesday that the Republican caucus prefers consistent enforcement of existing laws and is concerned safe storage “might actually wind up taking our juvenile justice in a direction that lessens the state’s ability to correct bad behavior.”
GOP Holocaust controversy
Debates about the merits of the bill were largely overshadowed Wednesday by outrage over the Michigan Republican Party tweet about Nazis and gun control.
Matt Brooks, CEO of the national Republican Jewish Coalition, called the tweet “absolutely inappropriate and offensive.”
Sen. Jeremy Moss, a Southfield Democrat, said the post exploits Holocaust victims, adding, “anti-Semitism thrives when these grotesque distortions of history diminish it.”
In a subsequent tweet, newly elected GOP Party Chair Kristina Karamo likened Michigan Democrats’ effort to amend the state’s gun policies to slavery, Japanese internment and Native American massacres, suggesting gun regulations would similarly deny Michigan citizens freedom.
At an afternoon media event in Macomb County, Karamo defended the comparison again.
Asked about Karamo's comments, Rep. Phil Green, R-Millington, told reporters on the House floor, "That name just doesn't really ring a bell, I'm sorry."
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