Permitless concealed carry bill draws heated debate in Michigan

A bill that would allow lawful gun owners in Michigan to carry concealed firearms without a permit sparked a heated debate this week.

MLive reported a pro-gun, four bill package was considered at a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday night, with passionate testimony coming from both sides.

One of the most discussed measures — House Bill 4416, sponsored by Republican Reps. Michele Hoitenga, Pamela Hornberger, Sue Allor and Triston Cole — would repeal the permit requirement to carry a concealed gun in the state for all lawful gun owners.

Hoitenga noted during her testimony that the bill would still keep the background check process intact and will not rid the state of its gun free zones.

“It is currently legal in the state of Michigan for a law-abiding person to openly carry a firearm on their person without any training classes, fees or state bureaucracy,” she said. “It only becomes illegal when a person puts on a coat, because the gun then becomes concealed. One millimeter of clothing makes the difference between a criminal act and a legal act.”

Hoitenga also argued the measure would help those who can’t afford to go through the current concealed carry permit process.

“Women, elderly, vulnerable and economically disadvantaged people should not be excluded from concealed carry because they can’t afford the fees associated with the permit process,” she said.

While supporters said repealing the permit process would help lawful gun owners avoid getting charged with crimes when transporting their firearms, opponents voiced safety and legal concerns, worried people currently prohibited from obtaining a concealed carry permit would now be allowed to carry concealed weapons.

David Hiller, of the Fraternal Order of Police, said the organization strongly opposes the legislation, arguing it “basically allows anyone to go out, purchase a handgun and carry it concealed.” Hiller also noted the measure would repeal the concealed carry training requirements, which he said could make communities less safe.

Tom Lambert, of the group Michigan Open Carry, echoed Hoitenga’s testimony, noting the bill would not change who can own a gun or get rid of gun free zones. “It allows people to carry in the manner they choose that’s best for their specific situation,” he said.

The bill was not voted upon at Tuesday’s hearing and is expected to be heard again next week.

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