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Two Michigan Supreme Court justices says Legislature should revisit felony firearm laws

Michigan Supreme Court
Wikipedia Media Commons
Michigan Supreme Court

The Michigan Supreme Court has upheld two convictions of a man violated two separate but similar state firearm laws. But two justices suggested it may be time to look at some changes.

The defendant’s argued his convictions of violating the state’s felony firearm law and being a felon in possession of a firearm amounted to being charged twice for the same crime. That, he said, violates the double jeopardy clause of the US and Michigan constitutions.

The court heard arguments in April, but issued an unusual order Friday changing track and, instead, declining to make a ruling.

The order was unsigned, but Justice Kyra Harris Bolden issued a statement concurring with the result as a matter of law but asking the Legislature “to reconsider the current draconian status quo of allowing dual convictions for the single act of possessing a firearm.” |

Bolden is a former Democratic legislator, who served in the state House from 2019 to 2022.

“Because I believe the Legislature clearly intended for multiple punishments to be imposed when a person with a felony possesses a firearm, I agree that denying leave in this matter is appropriate,” she wrote. “However, I write separately to urge the Legislature to reconsider the current draconian status quo of allowing dual convictions for the single act of possessing a firearm.”

Justice Elizabeth Welch also signed the concurring opinion. They said the law is not only unjust, but unnecessary.

“While the 1976 felony-firearm statute was built upon the understandable goal of decreasing the chance of a crime escalating into fatal violence by punishing use of a firearm when committing another crime, such a deterrent effect is not served where the underlying felony and the felony-firearm conviction arise from the identical action. The possession of a firearm is baked into the felon-in-possession conviction itself. In other words, charging a defendant under the felony-firearm statute because they violated the felon-in-possession statute does not deter the felon from unlawfully possessing the firearm under the felon-in-possession statute. The charges arise out of the identical transaction so one cannot deter the other,” they wrote.

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