It’s never been difficult to own firearms in Michigan, but you might think otherwise watching the majority of state lawmakers. They’re on a mission, and while finding a fix for our roads may be a bridge too far, the Legislature’s proven itself adroit at pursuing the gun lobby’s agenda.
Indeed, the Legislature went into its summer recess having passed eight bills with the blessing, if not directive, of the National Rifle Association, two of them already signed into law.
The first repealed Michigan’s ban on short-barreled rifles and shotguns, bringing Michigan into line with the majority of states that allow residents to own short-barreled weapons so long as they meet federal requirements, which include a background check and a $200 tax.
More recently, Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation to keep the names of gun owners out of the public record - a formality, really, since the state Supreme Court ruled in 1999 that the disclosure of gun registry records are “a clearly unwarranted invasion of an individual’s privacy.”
Think what you will about either of these bills, it seems odd that in the midst of a national epidemic of firearm violence and gun-related deaths that the lawmakers would be spending any time at all on loosening firearm restrictions.
We can’t think of a single public interest served by blocking access to records of who owns guns and who has the licenses and permits to carry them, but at least seven other states passed similar legislation after a New York newspaper published the names and addresses of handgun owners in two suburban counties north of New York City. Our Legislature is far from alone in doing the NRA’s bidding.
There is one way, however, that Michigan does stand out: It’s the only state in the union that gives county-level gun boards discretion in reviewing applications for concealed weapons permits.