Michigan Dems introduce 'assault weapon' ban in state House

Only weeks away from a general election and with two months left in session, Democrats in the Michigan House on Wednesday debuted a sweeping gun prohibition proposal.

The measure, introduced Oct. 19, would ban the sale of most semi-auto or pump-action firearms capable of accepting a detachable magazine and require those in the state to be registered under threat of a felony punishable by four years in prison.

The legislation joined eight other bills in a gun control package submitted in the aftermath of the terror attack at the Pulse nightclub in Florida that left 49 dead.

“None of these measures take away from our Second Amendment right to own a gun,” said state Rep. Robert Wittenberg, D-Oak Park, sponsor of the latest proposal, in a statement about the measure. “Instead, they regulate the safe use of firearms and ensure that those who aren’t fit to have a weapon — such as a suspected terrorist or a person who has threatened violence against a spouse — can’t walk into a store to buy one.”

Wittenberg’s newest effort, HB 5996, would define an “assault weapon” under Michigan law to be any semi-auto or pump-action centerfire rifle, pistol or shotgun that uses either a detachable magazine or a fixed magazine that holds more than 10 cartridges or any number of cosmetic features such as a muzzle brake or compensator, barrel shroud, pistol grip (on rifles), stock (on pistols) or revolving cylinder (on shotguns).

The expansive definition would be the strictest adopted in any state thus far, guns so identified would be unlawful to sale or convert in Michigan with exceptions made for law enforcement.

“Assault weapons” already in circulation could be retained by their owners but would need to be registered with the 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.

Grandfathered guns could be passed through inheritance but must be re-registered to the new owner.

Those found in violation of the proposed law would be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to four years or a $2,100 fine, or both.

Gun control advocates in the state like the idea, and suggest the right to bear arms is limited to hunting.

“None of the proposed legislation conflicts at all with the Second Amendment,” said Linda Brundage, executive director of the Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, as reported by WWMT. “If you need an assault weapon to go hunting in Michigan, I suggest you get target practice. Those are weapons of war they don’t belong in our communities or our streets.”

Gun rights advocates feel the measure, introduced so late in the session to a legislature where both chambers are under the firm control of Republicans, is political grandstanding.

“We’re 22 months into a 24 month legislative session; I think it’s what, three weeks till the election? I think everyone can piece together why they are suddenly coming out right now,” Tom Lambert, with Michigan Open Carry, told Fox 17.

The bill has been referred to the Committee on Criminal Justice.

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