New bill would restore local control on gun regulations inside public buildings

LANSING, Mich. (April 7, 2021) — Today, Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) introduced a bill to restore local control over gun regulations on public property. This would allow cities, townships, and counties to adopt rules like those governing courthouses or schools.

Traditionally, local governments had the authority to enact firearm regulations in the interest of public safety, however that is currently not the case. Due to a change to the law in 1991, and according to the Giffords Law Center, Michigan is one of the states that limits local governments’ authority to maintain safety on their property.

“Local governments have the responsibility to maintain safety in their buildings, but the Legislature removed their ability to restrict firearms in city hall,” Sen Irwin said. “We already prohibit firearms in courthouses as well as many other places like stadiums or schools. My bill would allow cities, townships, and counties to make similar rules for their properties.”

Gun violence has been on the rise in the U.S. for decades, with deadlier mass shootings happening more frequently. In 2019 alone, there were more mass shootings than there were days in the year and over 15,000 total gun deaths, according to the Gun Violence Archive. One of those 2019 mass shootings killed 12 people, including 11 municipal employees, and injured others when a disgruntled Virginia Beach city employee opened fire on his colleagues.

“Your city or township hall should be a place where citizens can come and participate freely without fear of violence or intimidation,” Sen Irwin added.

Although gun violence has received additional attention again lately due to the recent shootings in Boulder, Colorado, and Atlanta, it has remained an issue throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Detroit Free Press and Gun Violence Archive, Michigan experienced 20 mass shootings last year, or more than double the amount from 2019. Data from Gun Violence Archive also shows mass shootings rose 50% nationally, and 2020 was the deadliest gun violence year in decades in the U.S.

Sen. Irwin’s bill would restore local governments’ authority to create rules for firearms that protect the rights of all people to participate in their local government. Different communities face unique issues and, as such, may prefer different rules on guns to maintain safety on community property. This legislation would empower local governments that know these needs and their constituents best.