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Bill to ban assault weapons proposed by Michigan Democrats
A traffic stop in the 600 block of Lincoln Avenue in Flint resulted in the seizure of a 7.62×39 assault rifle. The weapon was fully loaded with a drum magazine and had one round in the chamber from the backseat of the vehicle. The man in possession of the assault rifle was arrested. (Courtesy Photo | Michigan State Police)
A draft version of the bill defines “assault weapon” as a semiautomatic pistol or semiautomatic or pump-action rifle capable of accepting a detachable magazine, that has at least one feature including a pistol grip behind the trigger on a rifle, a shoulder stock on a pistol, a barrel shroud, a muzzle break or compensator, or a protruding grip not held by the trigger hand.
The definition also includes a pistol capable of accepting a detachable magazine in a location outside of the pistol grip, a semiautomatic pistol or “center-fire rifle” with a fixed magazine that can carry more than 10 rounds of ammunition, and a shotgun with a revolving cylinder.
The bill would also make it illegal to possess at the same time a semiautomatic or pump-action rifle, or a semiautomatic pistol capable of accepting a detachable magazine, and a magazine capable of use with that firearm that contains more than 10 ammo rounds.
Robert Wittenberg (D – Oak Park) was not available for questions Wednesday about the bill, according to a staff member.
The draft version of the bill contains some exceptions and sets requirements for people owning assault weapons before the proposed law’s effective date, including registering the weapon with the Michigan State Police.
The bill would also empower the agency to conduct annual inspections of the gun to ensure safe storage. Once registered, the owner would have to update their registration every year and could only possess it in working order at shooting ranges or their own property, with the transport to and from being unloaded and in a secured container.
A person in violation of the proposed legislation would be guilty of a felony punishable by up to 4 years in prison, a $2,100 fine, or both.
Kalamazoo resident Mike Warren, 33, a member of the Michigan Gun Rights group, said he opposes the bill targeting assault weapons, partly because he believes it would impact law-abiding gun owners more than criminals.
“It’s like a solution looking for a problem,” Warren said. “We don’t have a problem with people killing people with rifles.”
In Michigan, according to 2015 FBI statistics, there were 389 murders with a gun used. Of those, 10 were rifles, the FBI data shows. Another 10 were shotguns, 148 were handguns, and 221 were “unknown” type.
Other bills in the package introduced Oct. 19 would:
- Require the reporting of stolen or lost ammunition, in a bill sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit.
- Require the provision of ballistic identification to police before certain sales of handguns, in legislation sponsored by Rep. Townsend.
- Prohibit and increase penalties for brandishing of an imitation firearm, sponsored by Rep. Wittenberg.
- Prohibit and provide penalties for altering a firearm or an imitation firearm, sponsored by Rep. Wittenberg.
- Prohibit and provide penalties for purchasing or attempting to purchase a firearm with the intent to furnish it to a minor or another individual prohibited from having a firearm, in legislation sponsored by Rep. Jon Hoadley, D-Kalamazoo.
Warren said he could support the idea of the bill meant to stop straw purchases for people who aren’t supposed to have a gun, but noted he did not know further details of that bill. He said he could see merit in requiting reporting of stolen or lost ammo, too.
“None of these bills would keep firearms out of the hands of law-abiding citizens who desire to have them,” Wittenberg said. “However, these proposals will help keep deadly weapons out of the hands of children and others who should never have them, and will help law enforcement resolve cases involving gun violence.”
The bills were introduced on the Day of National Concern — the day that students across the country were to take the Student Pledge Against Gun Violence, according to a news release from the lawmakers.
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