(Source: MIRS.news, Published 11/17/2023) In the wake of the shooting death of prominent Lansing Democratic activist Ted Lawson, Lansing’s City Council is ramping up conversations on what more can be done at the local level to push for more responsible gun ownership.
Lansing Mayor Andy Schor is telling the body “Not a heck of a lot.” State rules and regulations limit local governments’ ability to regulate guns, but the Mayor would like to change that.
The Mayor held a press conference this week in which he proposed that lawmakers give local governments the ability to penalize those who carelessly leave their loaded firearms unattended in vehicles or unattended in general.
As part of an overall package of ideas, Schor would also like to see local prosecutors be able to seek criminal penalties against the prior owners of stolen weapons later used to commit a crime. Schor also would like to see criminal penalties handed down at the local level for those who produce “ghost guns” or otherwise privately make a gun.
Schor also wants locals to have the ability to ban weapons from local government buildings, buses, parks and any other public locations.
Ideally, he’d like to see local governments be allowed to ban the sale of guns or ammo within their boundaries or ban anyone from carrying a weapon, either openly or concealed.
“Give us local control,” Schor said. “That’s what we want. We need more tools in the toolbox and some additional options we could use to prevent crimes. Let’s do it now. Let’s be proactive.”
Lawmakers do have some bills already in the hopper on this topic. Rep. Carol Glanville (D-Grand Rapids) proposed HB 4198 that allows local governments to ban the open carrying of a firearm within the boundaries of that government.
Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor)'s SB 208 allows local governments to ban guns on property owned or leased by a local unit of government.
While he’s not opposed to either idea, Schor suggested it might be an easier bite to penalize those who leave their guns unlocked and unattended in a vehicle.
One Republican lawmaker said he considers these ideas and the ones Schor is proposing as “100% pandering.”
Rep. Phil Green (R-Millington), whose father - former Sen. Mike Green - wrote many of the gun laws the state operates under, said the reason there’s a ban on local gun ordinances is because Michigan residents have a constitutional right to bear arms that needs to be consistent across the state.
“We don’t want to make criminals out of law-abiding citizens,” he said.
In Lansing, City Hall is a gun-free zone because the city’s courthouse is in the same building as city government offices.
In Flint, that’s not the case. Mayor Sheldon Neeley is trying to make City Hall a gun-free zone, arguing that since there’s a room in the building that hears some cases.
The decision is being challenged in local court by gun rights groups, Green said.