Photo: Great Lakes Gun Rights Executive Director Brenden Boudreau testifying in support of Constitutional Carry in Michigan. Watch the testimomy here:

By: Brenden Boudreau

Constitutional Carry (HB 4770-4774) was voted out of the Michigan House Military, Veterans, and Homeland Security Committee this week.

This legislation passed with all five Republicans on the committee voting “Aye,” three Democrats abstaining, and freshman Democrat State Rep. Mari Manoogian of the 40th House District being the lone “No” vote.

The three Democrats abstaining on the vote were Rep. Tyrone Carter (House District 6), Rep. Jewell Jones (House District 11), and Rep. John Chirkun (House District 22).

Unfortunately, Rep. Chirkun broke his pledge to vote for this important pro-gun legislation, as he not only is a co-sponsor of HB 4770, but also had previously signed his Great Lakes Gun Rights survey indicating his support for Constitutional Carry and voted for similar legislation in 2017.

The Michigan Constitutional Carry bill package is as much about gun rights as it is about criminal justice.

Right now, Michigan’s gun control laws lead to far too many otherwise law-abiding gun owners becoming felons for carrying concealed, or in their car, without a Concealed Pistol License (CPL).

Michigan’s life-shattering five-year felony for concealed carry of a weapon (CCW) is less forgiving than California, where carrying without a permit is only a misdemeanor.

Punishing someone carrying without a CPL with a five-year felony is insane when considering the fact that there are violent crimes involving actual physical injury that are treated less severely in Michigan.

For example, assaulting a police officer to the point that he or she requires medical attention is punished less than the victimless crime of carrying concealed without a CPL.

It is irrational to punish concealed carry without a CPL as a five-year felony, particularly when crimes with an actual injured victim carry less punishment.

Lawful Carry in More Locations Under Constitutional Carry

As part of this legislative package, those individuals legally allowed to possess a pistol would be able to carry in the same locations where CPL holders can currently carry.

Under Michigan law, there are very few actual “gun free” zones, as CPL holders are exempt from the prohibition from carrying in Concealed Pistol Free Zones and Weapons Free School Zones, albeit they are required to open carry in these areas.

Repealing the requirement to have a CPL to carry in these areas gives more freedom to property owners to allow patrons to carry concealed on their premises, as well as give gun owners more options on how to carry and where they can carry without first having to obtain a permit.
As has been witnessed in states with Constitutional Carry, these reforms stand to improve safety in Michigan as it will allow for law-abiding citizens to be their own first line of defense in the face of criminals bent on doing evil.

With this committee vote, gun rights activists are one step closer to obtaining a recorded vote on the floor of the Michigan House of Representatives.

The next stop for HB 4770-4774 is the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Republican State Rep. Graham Filler of the 93rd House District.

Constitutional Carry Is Criminal Justice Reform

Criminal justice reform has been a major talking point in Lansing, especially with divided government.

Republicans control both chambers of the State Legislature, but Democrats control all of the statewide offices, including Governor and Attorney General.

Eliminating penalties on the lawful carry of a concealed pistol is criminal justice reform and should be supported by members of both political parties.

Constitutional Carry would simply restore a fundamental right to law-abiding citizens in Michigan by no longer treating them as criminals for how they decide to carry.

Throwing gun owners in jail for up to five years and making them a felon robs them of their rights and their future.

Republicans and Democrats should be able to agree that making someone a felon for a victimless crime is bad policy that should be thrown to the dust bin of history.

But there will be those radicals who agree wholeheartedly with “Moms Demand Action” that it is completely reasonable to charge a Michigander with a felony for carrying concealed without a CPL.

Democrat State Rep. Mari Manoogian proved that she is one of these radicals with her vote against HB 4770-4774, as well as with her vote against HB 4434 earlier this year, which would have lessened penalties for CPL holders who inadvertently carry concealed with an expired permit.

It’d be nice to think that she is in the minority, but there is only one way to find out for sure, and this by getting a recorded vote on the House floor for HB 4770-4774.

Brenden Boudreau is the Director of Field Operations for the National Association for Gun Rights, writing from Michigan. Contact him at [email protected]. Disclosure: In addition to his work with the National Association for Gun Rights, the author is also Executive Director of Great Lakes Gun Rights.