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Michigan Democrats Push For Penalizing Poor Gun Storage

Stored Gun
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Gun owners would face harsh penalties for storing guns where minors can access them.  That’s under a new bill in the state House.

20 House Democrats have signed on to House Bill 5195.  Gun owners could face felony charges and get up to five years behind bars and a fine of up to $5,000 if a minor gets hold of a gun and injures or kills someone – including his or herself.  “There are stiff penalties in this bill.  There should be stiff penalties because this is the worst kind of tragedy, and it’s something that we can prevent,” said state Representative Jim Townsend (D-Royal Oak), the bill’s sponsor.  “We should be doing the most we can to make sure that these weapons are not falling into the hands of children or other people who can harm themselves or others.”

The bill also spells out lesser penalties for gun owners if a minor gains access to a firearm and exhibits it in public or in the presence of another person “in a careless, reckless, or threatening manner.”  And it requires gun sellers to provide written statements to buyers and post notices in stores about penalties for failing to safely store guns.

27 states have similar laws on the books.  It’s unlikely the House’s Republican majority will support the bill.

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— Jake Neher is the State Capitol Reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org

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