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Michigan House passes safe storage bills

Glock 17 with cable lock
Wikipedia Media Commons
Glock 17 with cable lock

Safe firearm storage bills made it out of the Michigan House Wednesday.

They add criminal penalties for when failing to safely store a gun leads to injury or death and suspend certain taxes, for sales and use, on safety devices.

Supporters of the bills say they’ll reduce suicides and accidental deaths among children.

“This is about keeping as many kids safe as we can and guns out of their hands so that both they and their communities can be safer,” Rep. Felicia Brabec (D-Pittsfield Twp) said after the vote Wednesday.

During committee and session, some opponents to the bills brought up concerns about the state using a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to storage laws.

“Parents are generally in a better position to know exactly what safety steps would be ideal to protect their own kids,” Rep. Andrew Fink (R-Hillsdale) told reporters.

The legislation underwent some changes Wednesday, both in the committee process, and then back on the floor.

Before adjourning, the House Judiciary Committee, which Rep. Kelly Breen chairs, adopted new versions of the proposal that would remove some legal immunities for gun sellers. It was similar to a proposal adopted earlier this month when the legislation was before a Senate committee.

But, like the Senate proposal, the erasure of those protections was phased out before they came to a floor vote.

Breen said she supported taking out the protections.

“I believe the laws are tailored very narrowly to ensure that the good actors are protected as long as those good actors follow the law, do their background checks, do what is required, they will be fine,” Breen said.

In all, eight bills came up for a vote Wednesday in the House. The House and Senate both had two mirror bills dealing with punishments and the criminal code for not properly locking up a gun when children are present.

They also had similar bills dealing with sales and use taxes on safety devices.

Each bill passed with more than 60 votes, including a yes from House Minority Leader Matt Hall (R-Richland Twp). In an emailed statement ahead of voting, he said his main concern was restoring the immunity clauses.

“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. I voted for these narrow, reasonable bills, and I will continue to stand against the Democrats’ extreme gun control agenda,” Hall’s statement read.

Both chambers of the Legislature have been working on broader gun bills for around a month.

Earlier this month, the House advanced a package to require universal background checks on gun purchases. A separate package to create extreme risk protection orders, commonly called "red-flag laws," to keep guns from those deemed a threat to themselves or others, remains in committee.

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Colin Jackson is the Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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