Legislators Announce Bills to Expand Universal Background Checks

LANSING — Sens. Rosemary Bayer (D–Beverly Hills), Stephanie Chang (D–Detroit) and Jeremy Moss (D–Southfield), along with Reps.Robert Wittenberg (D–Huntington Woods), Brenda Carter (D–Pontiac) and Jon Hoadley (D–Kalamazoo) today announced a bill package to expand universal background checks for guns to cover all types of firearms.

The universal background check bills would amend Michigan law — that currently only requires background checks for pistols — by requiring mandatory background checks for all types of firearms. 

“To keep our residents safe, we must update Michigan’s existing laws to reflect the changing society that we live in,” Sen. Bayer said. “It’s our duty as lawmakers to ensure that people are as safe as possible, whether that be in their homes, at work, in school, in houses of worship or anywhere they may be.”

The bills would also update Michigan laws to reflect the changes to universal background checks. 

“When gun violence touches a synagogue in Pittsburgh, a night club in Orlando, and schools all throughout the country, people from all walks of life have a sense of fear that these tragedies can happen anywhere at any time. This shouldn’t be normal, and we don’t have to accept it,” Sen. Moss said. “These are common-sense bills that most Americans support to prevent the next tragedy from occurring. Our colleagues must join us to pass these reforms to keep everyone in each of our districts safe.” 

The legislation would require state law to include all firearms. It would also update the criminal procedure and sentencing guidelines for a person who forges information on their firearm license application, provides a false statement on a firearms sales record, or knowingly sells a firearm without performing a background check.

“Families across our state deserve to feel safe and secure in their homes and on their streets knowing that criminals are not able to readily access firearms,” Rep. Wittenberg said. “Michigan residents understand the critical role background checks play in keeping our communities safe, which is why it is so important that we extend this provision to include all firearms.”

Michigan is one of only four states that require a permit and a background check for all purchases of handguns, but not long guns. Currently, 12 states and Washington D.C. require universal background checks for all firearm sales. Of these, six rank as one of the 10 states with the least gun violence

“Firearm injuries are currently the second leading cause of death in children and teens. Requiring universal background checks for firearms purchases gets us closer to the goal of preventing these tragic deaths,” said Dr. Sharon Swindell, a University of Michigan physician and president of the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “Polls consistently find that the vast majority of people surveyed in the United States, including 85% of gun owners, favor universal background checks on sales of all weapons. There is wide bipartisan support to keep guns out of the wrong hands and it’s time for Michigan to take that stand.”

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