Advance Notice: Briefs

Shirkey says he’s open to hearing on ‘red flag’ gun control bills

By: - September 11, 2019 11:38 am

Open carry rally at the Michigan Capitol, Sept. 10, 2019 | C.J. Moore

Proposed legislation aimed at curbing gun violence is likely to at least receive a committee hearing in the GOP-controlled state Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey speaks at the auto insurance reform bill signing, May 30, 2019 | Andrew Roth

While it’s unclear when that may occur, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) said on a radio show last month that he has committed to holding at least “a hearing or two” on the bill, commonly known as “red flag” legislation.

These measures would prevent those deemed to pose a “clear and present risk of harm to themselves or others” by law enforcement or family members from buying or possessing guns. Multiple other states have enacted such legislation. 

Shirkey made the comments on WKHM-FM in his Jackson-area Senate district, which was noted on Tuesday by the Detroit News.

Despite signaling support for a public hearing in the state Senate Government Operations Committee — which Shirkey chairs and is typically the panel bills go to die — he indicated his support for new gun control measures was minimal. 

“I maintain that law enforcement and citizens already have a fair amount of latitude,” Shirkey said. “If they identify somebody that they think is in trouble because they think they’re going to harm themselves or harm somebody else, there are ways that are already lawfully allowed for that process to take place. I’m very, very careful that we’re not introducing new laws that basically duplicate or are redundant on existing laws.”

Shirkey spokeswoman Amber McCann said there’s no timeframe for when the hearings may take place.

On Tuesday, pro-gun activists gathered for a rally on the Capitol lawn, with several GOP lawmakers speaking at the event. Many attendees brought their firearms into the building afterward.

Rosemary Bayer

The Senate legislation, Senate Bill 156, is sponsored by state Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D-Beverly Hills) and has several Democratic co-sponsors. 

Companion legislation in the state House has received no traction so far, since being introduced at the same time as the Senate bills in February by state Rep. Robert Wittenberg (D-Huntington Woods). State Rep. Kara Hope (D-Holt) wrote a guest column in the Advance this week advocating for the bills to be taken up.

A Democratic-led U.S. House committee on Tuesday advanced federal red flag laws as part of a broader push on gun control. 

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Nick Manes
Nick Manes

Nick Manes is a former Michigan Advance reporter, covering West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels.