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House adopts universal background check gun bill

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The Michigan House has approved gun safety bills that include requiringuniversal background checks for gun sales. The bills cleared the House Wednesday night on party-line votes.

The bills that cleared the House are the first to be voted on by either legislative chamber since the February 13 mass shooting at Michigan State University that left three students dead.

Democrats said the bills are the beginning of a comprehensive approach to address gun violence.

Representative Jaime Churches(D-Wyandotte) is one of the bill sponsors.

“This will not end gun violence,” she said. “This will simply be a step in doing something so our future generations don’t have to do this anymore.”

Republicans opposed the bills. Representative Jay DeBoyer (R-Clay) said a background check would not have stopped the MSU shooting.

“This will do absolutely nothing to stop a criminal from acting when their evil heart has decided to act,” he said. “What we’re doing is weakening the innocent.”

Representative Kristian Grant(D-Grand Rapids) said background checks are just part of solving gun violence.

“I am not naïve,” she said. “I know that background checks are not a panacea for the gun violence epidemic we face in our country. I also know there needs to be a culture shift in how we think about and respond to this public health crisis. And, yes, this is a public health crisis.”

The background check bills now go the Senate. The Legislature is also looking at safe storage requirements and “red flag” laws, which would allow courts to order gun seizures from people deemed to be a threat to themselves or others. Those bills were not voted on Wednesday.

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Rick Pluta is the managing editor for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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