Michigan state House of Representatives on Wednesday approved A legislation allowing gun owners to carry concealed firearms without a permit. The package consisting of four bills will now move to the Senate for approval, Reuters reported.
Two bills were passed with 59 to 49 votes, Wednesday, the Associated Press reported, while the other two bills were passed with 60-48 and 61-47 votes.
If approved by the Senate, the bill will make its way to the governor’s desk for approval. However, it is unclear if Gov. Rick Snyder will vote in favor of the bill. The bill, if passed by the Senate, will automatically become a law 14 days after reaching the governor’s desk, unless he vetoes it, the report added.
Once the law comes into effect, handgun owners would no longer be required to obtain a license with a $100 fee to legally carry their firearm in public.
The current law in Michigan requires a gun owner to obtain a license for carrying a concealed firearm.
During the debate on gun laws, Rep. Lee Chatfield said criminals do not obey gun laws in any way and therefore, it is the fundamental right of every law-abiding citizen to carry a concealed weapon for his own safety. “Criminals do not obey the law. Criminals don’t obey the gun laws we have now. And criminals won’t obey the new gun laws we pass. That is why they’re called criminals,” Chatfield said.
“I wholeheartedly believe allowing law-abiding citizens the opportunity to have the same freedoms that criminals already do in this state will make our communities safer,” he added.
Voicing her opinion in favor of the bill, Rep. Michele Hoitenga, the sponsor of the bill, said in a statement: “We all know criminals are not paying fees, taking classes and waiting for approval to come in the mail before they begin carrying guns.”
“The legislation levels the playing field for honest people,” she added.
Though the bill received support from a few Democrats, there were some who opposed it stating that it would endanger the safety of the people, the Detroit News reported.
Democrats who voted against it said, if passed, the bill would allow offenders, stalkers, and criminals to carry concealed pistols. “These changes are dangerous for our law enforcement and dangerous for our families,” Rep. Donna Lasinski said.
“This is as much a coat tax as a fee for a marriage license is a walking-down-the-aisle tax,” said Rep. Jon Hoadley, adding, “If you want the responsibility of carrying concealed, you intentionally get the permit. And getting a permit’s a good thing.”
Michigan law enforcement officials too opposed the bill arguing that it will make residents less safe. “It could be potentially devastating,” Howell Chief of Police George Basar said. “Someone needs to know the limits and the responsibilities and the bounds in which they can use a weapon in that capacity for a civilian,” he added.