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Michigan Democrats Push Strict Semiautomatic Rifle Ban in Legislature

Michigan Democrats are pushing a new bill in the state legislature that would make illegal the “manufacturing, possession, purchase and sale” of certain semiautomatic rifles.

These restrictions will be enforced in the state of Michigan if House Bill No. 6544, recently introduced by a Democrat, State Rep. Jeffrey Peppers, passes.

The bill, which was introduced on Dec. 1,  would effectively ban semiautomatic rifles and identify them as so-called “assault weapons ” a day after the anniversary of last year’s Oxford High School shooting.

The proposed bill defines an “assault weapon” as a semiautomatic rifle with the ability to accept a detachable magazine and has one or more of the following characteristics—a pistol grip or thumbhole stock, any feature capable of functioning as a protruding grip that can be held by the non-trigger hand, a folding or telescoping stock, has a shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely encircles the barrel and that permits the shooter to hold the firearm with the non-trigger hand without being burned, but excluding a slide that encloses the barrel.

The Democrats took the majority in both the Michigan state House of Representatives and the Senate in November for the first time in four decades and control the governor’s mansion as well.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is expected to sign any bill restricting civilian gun rights.

‘Frequent Gun-Ban Tactic’

If the gun ban is passed as currently written, it would prohibit the possession, manufacturing, purchasing, or selling of firearms that fit the definition beginning Jan. 1, 2024, with a few exceptions.

A “grandfather clause” included in the legislation does allow those who currently own such firearms to keep them before the effective date of the act.

However, owners must register them with the state government and re-register them every five years for an unspecified fee.

“Of course, such a clause is only included to pacify gun owners and then could be removed in subsequent legislation—a frequent gun-ban tactic,” wrote Mark Chesnut at Firearms News.

AR-15 style rifles are displayed for sale at a U.S. gun store. (Bing Guan/Reuters)

The bill’s broadly vague definition of an “assault weapon” would include the popular AR-15 rifle, the most popular rifle in the United States, which is owned and used by hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents, said Chestnut.

He added that the lack of caliber stipulations in the bill’s language would also ban many other popular and best-selling rifles, like the Ruger 10/2, which is mainly used for hunting and target shooting.

If the law is passed, it would be up to law enforcement and the courts to enforce and see if certain rifles are defined as falling under the new measure.

House Bill 6544 gives the Michigan State Police full power to fill in all of the many blanks in the legislation.

“The department of state police shall promulgate rules pursuant to the administrative procedures act of 1969, 1969 PA 306, MCL 24.201 to 24.328, to implement this act,” states Section 3 of the act.

If the proposed law is violated, a gun owner could be found guilty of a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

“Michigan has had 24 mass shootings this year, and Michiganders are rightly ANGRY. My office has been contacted all year by constituents asking WHEN and HOW we are going to take action,” wrote Pepper, who represents Dearborn.

“If the federal government won’t reinstate the automatic weapons ban that drastically reduced gun violence in the 90s, then it’s time we take it into our own hands,” he continued.

Michigan school shooting
Parents walk away with their children from the Meijer’s parking lot where many students gathered following an active shooter situation at Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich., on Nov. 30, 2021. (Eric Seals/USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters)

Two Other Anti-Gun Bills

Pepper also introduced House Bills 6545 and 6546, which would create a ban on open carry of long firearms in public spaces.

“HB 6545 which bans open carry of rifles and shotguns in Michigan, makes it a 5 year felony to open carry a long gun in Michigan. That’s more jail time than assaulting a police officer,” said Brenden Boudreau, Executive Director of Great Lakes Gun Rights.

After the bills were introduced and read, they were referred to the bipartisan Committee on Military, Veterans, and Homeland Security, which is chaired by Rep. Beau LaFave, a Republican.

It is unknown what the committee will suggest, and it is unlikely that any of the bills will pass this year since it is late in the legislative session.

“The so-called ‘assault weapons ban’ legislation will do nothing to reduce crime,” said Firearms News Field Editor James Tarr, who believes that the legislation will only affect lawful residents of the state.

“No gun control has reduced crime anywhere. By definition, only law-abiding citizens obey gun laws, and criminals and tyrants much prefer unarmed victims,” he said.

“Any law which seeks to disarm law-abiding citizens is inherently evil, and on its face a direct violation of the Second Amendment, which was written to protect us from tyrants.”

Epoch Times Photo
“Gun Owners of America” buttons are sold at the State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan, on Sept. 27, 2022, during the annual rally organized by the “Second Amendment March” group. (Rebecca Cook/AFP via Getty Images)

Gearing up for Court Battle

Guns owner advocacy groups are gearing up for a court battle.

“The National Foundation for Gun Rights is already suing several states for so called assault weapons bans on the books,” said Boudreau.

“It’s very possible we could see the U.S. Supreme Court take up such a ban and that’s where Democrats in Lansing need to be considering if they actually want to push something like this, because it could cost taxpayers millions of dollars in legal fees if the Supreme Court is just going to knock it down anyway,” he said.

Bryan S. Jung is a native and resident of New York City with a background in politics and the legal industry. He graduated from Binghamton University.

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