Reps. Wittenberg, Chang and Hoadley Introduce Gun Safety Reform Package

Bills would create universal background checks in Michigan
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

LANSING — State Reps. Robert Wittenberg (D-Huntington Woods), Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) and Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo), members of the Michigan Gun Violence Prevention Caucus, have introduced legislation to institute stronger gun safety regulations in Michigan and calling on Congress to lift a ban on research related to gun violence at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The bills, House Bills 5369-5371, wouldn’t interfere with the Second Amendment right to lawfully own a firearm, but would help ensure that people unable to legally obtain such a weapon can’t get their hands on one.

“This is a measure to prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands, while at the same time protecting law-abiding gun owners.” Rep. Wittenberg said. “We should be doing everything we can to ensure that only people who are qualified to own firearms have access to them. Polls repeatedly show that this proposal has overwhelming support from gun owners and non-gun owners alike.”

 The proposals would:

  • Institute universal criminal background checks to cover all firearm sales, including long guns, and close the “private sale loophole” that allows firearms to be sold without a background check. According to a Pew Research study released in June 2017, 77 percent of gun owners and 87 percent of non-gun owners agreed with closing the private sale loophole.
  • Call on Congress to lift a ban precluding federal dollars from going to research relating to gun violence at the CDC.

“Too many families and too many communities have been torn apart by gun violence,” Rep. Chang said. “Every time there is a mass killing in the headlines, we hear a cry for prayers and for legislative action. But time and again, those legislative efforts are derailed despite overwhelming public support. People are demanding change, and it’s long overdue that we give it to them.”

The gun lobby has gone so far as to make it nearly impossible for public health researchers to study the extent and effects of gun violence in our country. The Dickey Amendment, first added to the 1996 federal government omnibus spending bill and reauthorized every year since, places strict limits on what the CDC can research in relation to gun violence.

“No matter where you stand on the issue of gun safety, we can all agree that even one innocent life lost to gun violence is one too many,” Rep. Hoadley said. “We need to let researchers do what they do best: study, analyze, and make recommendations to reduce gun violence without political interference. Everyone should support scientific research if they truly want to keep innocent people — including responsible gun owners — safe.”