Gun rights supporters in the Michigan House are working several bills to decriminalize some firearm-related offenses through the legislative process.
House Bills 4200 and 4201 cleared the House Military, Veterans and Homeland Security Committee. They seek to reduce the first-offense penalty for carrying a concealed weapon in prohibited areas from a felony punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment, a $2,500 fine or both to a $330 civil penalty if the license had lapsed the previous year.
Current state law mandates punishments based on the number of concealed-carry offenses in prohibited areas like schools, churches, sports arenas, nars and hospitals.
A second offense under the measure would be a misdemeanor punishable up to a $1,000 fine, 90 days in prison and possibly a revoked license.
A third offense would a felony punishable by up to two years in prison, up to a $5,000 fine, and a revoked license if that third offense was committed within five years.
Two Democrats, Reps. Jewell Jones of Detroit and John Chirkun of Roseville, said they agreed with easing some restrictions, but not for repeat offenders.
Chirkun told Mlive that a third-strike offender carrying a concealed weapon in a prohibited area “needs to go to jail as far as I’m concerned.”
Jones, 24, told The Center Square that the group sought perspectives ranging from law enforcement to courts that led to compromise.
They agreed to lower the first-offense penalty but amended the original bill to keep penalties and fines for repeat offenders “still relatively stringent, so people know this isn’t something you can do over and over again,” Jones said.
Jones previously served in the National Guard and Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.
House Democrats also introduced legislation this session to allow Michigan judges to issue an “extreme risk protection order” temporarily prohibiting a person from buying or possessing a gun if deemed a serious risk by law enforcement or family. So-called "red flag" bills have been introduced in the legislatures across the country.
Another set of bills introduced by Democrats would make unsafe firearm storage a misdemeanor and firearm safety devices exempt from sales and use taxes.
A bill allowing transport of a loaded shotgun on private property in a car or all-terrain vehicle passed the House and awaits action in the Senate.