Judge denies pro-gun groups’ request to halt Michigan gun reform laws

By: - April 21, 2023 2:09 am

MSU students sit on the Michigan Capitol steps to demand gun reform following the Feb. 13, 2023 mass shooting at Michigan State University, Feb. 15, 2023 | Laina G. Stebbins

A Michigan Court of Claims judge on Tuesday denied two pro-gun organizations’ attempts to temporarily bar the state’s new gun reform laws from going into effect.

Great Lakes Gun Rights and Michigan Open Carry filed a lawsuit April 13 against the Democratic-led Michigan House and Senate over the gun reform legislation that was introduced in the wake of the mass shooting that killed three students at Michigan State University. 

They alleged in the suit that lawmakers had violated the state’s Open Meetings Act by not granting them enough time to testify against the legislation.

At Michigan State University, Whitmer signs first gun reform bills

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a portion of that legislation last week, including bills mandating background checks for all firearm purchases in Michigan and that all guns be stored safely in homes where minors could access the weapons. Another set of bills that would allow a court to order the temporary removal of guns from someone who may be a danger to themselves or others is headed to the governor’s desk. The legislation is slated to go into effect next year.

The lawsuit alleged that legislators intentionally violated the First and 14th Amendment rights of the two groups by not providing enough opportunity for the organizations to speak on the legislation during committee hearings on the gun bills. 

The groups asked Court of Claims Judge Thomas Cameron, who was appointed by Republican former Gov. Rick Snyder, to “issue a preliminary and permanent injunction” against the lawmakers to compel “compliance with the Open Meetings Act and/or enjoining further noncompliance.”

Cameron ruled that Great Lakes Gun Rights and Michigan Open Carry failed to establish an immediate and irreparable injury, did not identify what the defendants’ specific rules were or how they violated them under the Open Meetings Act, and did not show that granting a temporary restraining order would benefit public interest.

The judge wrote that the “meetings at issue have occurred over the span of nearly two months, and so plaintiffs have had ample time to file this lawsuit and provide defendants with notice of their request for injunctive relief.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a press release that Michigan Open Carry “did, in fact, testify at two of the meetings” and “both plaintiffs were able to submit testimony cards at all meetings and additionally had the opportunity to submit written testimony.”

Both Great Lakes Gun Rights and Michigan Open Carry have been vocal critics of Michigan’s gun reform bills, which are similar to legislation passed in Republican-led states like Florida and Indiana and which would not bar residents from lawfully possessing or purchasing a firearm.

Great Lakes Gun Rights, which is based in Grand Rapids, announced less than one week after the MSU mass shooting that it would launch recall campaigns for any lawmaker who voted in favor of the bills meant to curb gun violence.


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Anna Gustafson
Anna Gustafson

Anna Gustafson is a former assistant editor at Michigan Advance, where her beats included economic justice, health care and immigration. Previously the founder of the Muskegon Times and the editor at Rapid Growth Media in Grand Rapids, Anna has worked as an editor and reporter for news outlets across the country.