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Michiganders Beware: New Gun Laws Are in Effect

A look at the latest in gun control folly from the Great Lakes State.

Brace yourselves Michigan firearm owners: A bevy of new gun laws just took effect. From so-called safe storage requirements – which make home defense much more problematic – to the ineffective background checks and extreme risk protection orders that could see law abiding citizens disarmed without due process, it’s high time for a close look at the latest in gun control folly that makes the Great Lakes State a much more dangerous and less free place than it was just a day ago.

Safe Storage: Safer Only in Theory

Michigan residents are henceforth required to keep all firearms being stored or left unattended unloaded and locked away if it is “reasonably known” that a minor might be present. If a minor “possesses or exhibits” a firearm in a public place or in the presence of another person in a “careless, reckless or threatening manner,” the owner of the weapon is guilty of a misdemeanor criminal charge punishable by no more than 93 days in jail, a fine of up to $500, or both.

Should said minor then fire the weapon and injure themselves or someone else, that misdemeanor becomes a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000 – ten years and $7,500 if the injury is “severe.” If the wounded person dies, the punishment for the gun owner – not the minor who pulled the trigger – goes up to a potential 15 years in prison and as much as a $10,000 fine.

The real life-and-death issue here is in home defense. In theory, an adult with children living in the home could usually remain in compliance with this law and be ready to fend off a home invasion simply by keeping a firearm on their person even at home and locking any others away. That would work most of the time – taking a shower, changing clothes, or sleeping raises some issues, of course, as does playing with the kids while wearing a deadly weapon. But imagine all firearms but the gun-owner’s everyday carry piece are locked away unloaded where the kids don’t have access to them.

Now imagine the armed adult is away from the house while an older child is home, and a home invasion occurs. Even if the eldest has permission and access to where the weapons are stored, there’s the problem of retrieving that weapon from its locked location, loading it, and using it in self-defense before anyone with violent intent can act.

Michigan, at least, does address the issue of home defense by negating all this should the minor be acting in self-defense. Not all states do.

Virginia State Delegate Nicholas Freitas, the Republican representing Old Dominion’s 62nd district, asked that very same question just last month in the debate over Virginia’s own safe storage bill, HB183. In a short video posted to YouTube on Jan. 31, he explained the issue. Here is his own hypothetical question – and the insane answer to it:

“I said, ‘Look, I get what you’re trying to do here. You’re trying to make things a little bit safer.’ I said, ‘However, I live in the country, where the police are generally at least 15 minutes away on a good day. So, if my 16-year-old daughter, who has been taught to handle and use firearms responsibly since she was five years old, if she’s home alone and somebody – oh, I don’t know, maybe that you let out on parole, because you do a lot of that around here – is kicking in our door in order to harm my daughter and she uses one of my firearms in order to protect herself, am I now a criminal?’ And after a very, very lengthy, lawyerly explanation, the answer was, ‘yep, you sure are.’ Make it make sense.”

But the core issue remains: An unloaded firearm locked in a box is useless. That’s fine for hunting and sporting guns, but a home defense weapon must be reachable and usable by whoever is going to defend the home. The trick to this situation – as just about any rural gun owner with kids can tell you – isn’t to hide the weapons from the children, but to train the children in the responsible handling and use of the weapons.

Will the New Laws Work as Intended?

Safe storage requirements with both misdemeanor and felony penalties aren’t the only new Michigan gun laws that create crimes where none existed before or increase the potential for death by unintended consequences. One such law requires anyone who isn’t a federally licensed firearm dealer (FFL) to “complete a record in triplicate on a form provided by the department of state police” that includes either the buyer’s concealed weapon license number or, if they aren’t licensed, the dealer license number of the FFL who did the background check.

In short, all purchases – even between private individuals – must now go through an FFL for the sake of having a background check and a record of the sale.

The problem is that universal background checks don’t work. If a criminal is looking to acquire a gun for the commission of a crime, he already most likely plans to steal it or buy it from someone without going through an FFL – regardless of whether he can pass a background check or not. All this does is make a crime where no crime existed before. Those who plan to commit murder or robbery at gunpoint won’t be deterred. Don’t believe that? Just look at California’s atrocious record.

Then there’s the extreme risk protection order – or so-called red flag law – that just took effect. As is the case in most states with similar regulations, it is now possible for a judge to issue an order for police to confiscate weapons from a Michigan resident who has no idea that he or she has been ordered disarmed. What’s worse – again, as is the case in most of these states – Michigan allows no-knock warrants and pre-dawn raids. It shouldn’t take too much imagination to see how this could go horribly awry and cost the lives of law enforcement officers, residents who have committed no crime, or both. What reason in the world would an armed law-abiding citizen in Detroit have to believe that the gunmen knocking down their door at 3 a.m. without announcing their identity are police?

Foolish Gun Laws, Unintended Consequences

Another new Michigan law prevents people who have been convicted of domestic violence from buying, owning, or transporting a firearm for eight years after sentencing. This one may well save more lives than the others – but it also renders the convict, as all such “prohibited persons” laws do, unable to adequately defend themselves or their families. And of all the crimes for which people are falsely accused and convicted, domestic abuse ranks high, meaning there’s a much higher chance of disarming an innocent person than in most other situations.

The more astute reader has likely noticed the pattern here: Whether these gun laws achieve their stated goals or not, they all come with unintended consequences that could cost people who aren’t otherwise criminals their lives or their status as free Americans. As is so often the case, gun laws devised by gun-control advocates supposedly seek to make the world a safer place by disarming only the people who follow the rules.

Read More From James Fite

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