Legislators Announce Bills for Universal Background Checks on Guns

LANSING, Mich. (May 17, 2021) — Sens. Rosemary Bayer (D–Beverly Hills), Stephanie Chang (D–Detroit) and Jeremy Moss (D–Southfield), along with Reps. Felicia Brabec (D–Pittsfield), Brenda Carter (D–Pontiac) and Regina Weiss (D-Oak Park), today announced a bill package to expand universal background checks for guns to include all types of firearms.

Currently, Michigan law only requires background checks for pistols.

“Given the violent displays of domestic extremism here in Michigan and across our country this past year, it should come as no surprise that our laws governing access to firearms are severely lacking,” Sen. Bayer said. “Our one job as legislators is to provide our communities with the safety and stability they deserve, and this includes amending the current laws so that people feel a sense of security in their homes, at work, in school, in houses of worship or anywhere they may be.”

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

“The impact of gun violence touches all of our communities, but the Legislature cannot continue to act as if there is nothing we can do about it — especially when proven measures like universal background checks could help keep guns out of the wrong hands,” 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 — Senate Bills 454 (Bayer), 455 (Chang), and 456 (Moss), and House Bills 4869 (Brabec), 4870 (Carter), and 4871 (Weiss) — also updates 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.

According to the Giffords Law Center, more than 90% of the American people support background checks for all firearm sales, while a national survey shows that 45% of online gun buyers don’t undergo a background check of any kind.

“Michigan needs a stronger background check system to better protect communities across the state. On any given day, unlicensed sellers can sell guns without background checks online, at gun shows, and through unregulated person-to-person sales,” said Sean Holihan, state legislative director for the Giffords Law Center. “Closing these massive loopholes is backed by more than 90% of Americans — including the majority of Democrats, Republicans, Independents and gun owners — and it’s time for Congress and Michigan leaders to listen, and act to save lives.”

Michigan is one of only four states that requires 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 among the 10 states with the least gun violence.

“Protecting the health and safety of all residents should be our state’s top priority, and that includes passing legislation with the potential to decrease gun violence,” Rep. Brabec said. “It’s time to update our laws to reflect the growing public support for universal background checks in Michigan.”

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