Why It Matters: Sometimes, a bill that would harm the interests of sportsmen and women has the support of both legislative chambers in a state. When this is the case, it is imperative that the groups defending those interests do all that they can to educate legislators on how the language could be improved to mitigate negative impacts. This month, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) working alongside partners, achieved significant improvements to a Michigan bill that would have been far more damaging in its original form.
- Michigan House Bill 4138 has been sent to the Governor’s desk for her signature after a month-long legislative hearing process. CSF worked very closely with legislators and partners to oppose the bill and its Senate companion, Senate Bill 76.
- As originally written, these bills would have applied the state’s current pistol licensing system to all guns, meaning that a person could not possess any firearm for which they did not own a purchase license.
- The legislation would have made it a crime to borrow or loan a gun to go hunting or recreationally shoot, which would have had significant negative impacts on sportsmen and women and their ability to share our time-honored traditions with newcomers and youth.
As originally written, House Bill 4138 and Senate Bill 76 would have expanded the state’s pistol licensing system to include all firearms, meaning that a person could not possess a firearm that they did not own. This would have had a detrimental impact on the ability of hunters and recreational shooters to share their favorite pastimes with newcomers, hurting recruitment, retention, and reactivation efforts in the state. Additionally, the legislation would have required Michiganders to submit license applications to the State Police for the millions of firearms already owned by the state’s many sportsmen and women. Because the Michigan State Police was not designed to take on such a massive influx of clerical work, it is possible that many applications would not have been processed by the time the law took effect, turning otherwise lawful hunters and recreational shooters into criminals.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, alongside in-state and national partners, successfully convinced Michigan lawmakers that the legislation as introduced was extremely detrimental to the state’s hunters and recreational shooters. The language was amended to drastically mitigate negative impacts on sportsmen and women by removing the license-to-possess requirement. With this change, Michiganders may continue to freely share firearms with friends and family to hunt or recreationally shoot, and the State Police will not be burdened by the impossible task of approving licenses for existing firearms in the State.
Although the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation made it clear to legislators that the changes did not invite CSF’s support of the bills, securing these amendments is still a victory for the State’s outdoor heritage. With both chambers of the legislature and the Governor’s office supporting the original bill versions, mitigating the impacts on sportsmen and women was an uphill battle from their introduction. Upon HB 4138’s expected signing by the Governor, Michiganders will be required to pass background checks for private gun sales. CSF will continue to work alongside partners and legislators to oppose and improve bills that harm our outdoor traditions.