LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan lawmakers on Wednesday sent Gov. Rick Snyder legislation that would relax the state’s restrictions on air guns by repealing an age limit and no longer regulating them like firearms.
The approval - timed to coincide with a pro-Second Amendment rally at the Capitol - came four months after Snyder vetoed the same measures because he received only part of a package of bills. Signing some and not others would have resulted in inconsistencies in law, the Republican said at the time.
He is expected to sign the new legislation backed by the National Rifle Association, which has said Michigan is among just four states to classify most pellet and BB guns as firearms. The gun-rights group said recently that air guns should not be subjected to the “same onerous regulations for their purchase, possession and transfer.”
While most of the gun bills won unanimous passage, two were opposed by some Democrats.
One, approved 30-7 by the Senate, would with some exceptions prohibit local governments from regulating air guns since they already cannot regulate firearms. The other, OK’d 79-31 by the House, would abolish a law prohibiting children under age 18 from using BB handguns outside their house unless accompanied by an adult.
“This could very well be a recipe for disaster,” said Sen. Steve Bieda, a Warren Democrat who cited instances of police shooting kids thinking their toy guns were real ones. “The safety of children in this state is paramount.”
The legislation would let counties, cities, townships and villages require children under 16 with air guns to be supervised by a parent or adult except on private property. It would not prevent local regulation of criminal conduct with an air gun.
Cities and townships also could bar the use of the guns in “heavily populated” areas, except at authorized target ranges and on private property, if care is taken to prevent pellets or paintballs from crossing the property line.
Senate Democrats unsuccessfully tried tying the air gun reclassification legislation to a bill that would prohibit people from carrying guns in schools, daycare centers, bars, sports arenas and other “pistol-free areas.” Michigan law lets people with a concealed-carry permit openly carry their gun in those locations as long as they do not conceal it.
Recent incidents at schools in Ann Arbor and Madison Heights have prompted calls to end what critics say is a legal loophole.
In 2012, Snyder vetoed legislation that would have allowed concealed weapons in zones where they only can be carried openly. He wanted to prohibit open carry in those places in exchange and to let schools and other entities opt out if they did not want concealed pistols on site.
Sen. Mike Green, a Mayville Republican, said Wednesday he is working on a bill that might propose a trade-off - prohibiting the open carry of guns in designated areas such as schools while allowing concealed carry there.
House Bills 4151-56: https://1.usa.gov/1DX2Y8V
HBs 4160-61: https://1.usa.gov/1HSfzzV
Senate Bill 85: https://1.usa.gov/1bfz3lc
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