Michigan Open Carry, Inc's attempt to define what it means to "brandish" in Michigan has resulted in a veto from Governor Snyder, though the situation is complicated and not as bad as it sounds. Read on for the full story.
In the fall of 2013 we announced two bills, HB 5091 (Johnson (R) Clare) and HB 5092 (Dillon (D) Grand Rapids), that would define what it means to "brandish" in Michigan. More on that here.
Once the bills started moving through the Legislature they moved quickly and with significant support. They were reported out of each committee unanimously and when the House voted on them, they approved the package with over 95% voting in favor. That was, until the bills reached the floor of the Senate in April.
We can't say for certain why the bills stalled at this point but inside information pointed to two things. First, Governor Snyder reportedly indicated to leadership that he didn't want to deal with any firearm related bills until after the elections in November and second, Republican Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville reportedly didn't want to move a firearm related bill from a Democrat. Whatever the real reason was, it was clear we were going to have to wait and attempt to work in the limited and hectic timeframe of lame duck. Politics.
Meanwhile, an unrelated package of 7 bills called the "Airgun Package", which mainly redefined "firearm" in Michigan to exclude airsoft and paintball guns, was also working its way through the legislature. This package received similar treatment and also stalled until the lame duck session after the elections.
Fast forward a bit to late December. With only a few session days left before the Legislature adjourned sine die everyone was busy trying to get their bills across the finish line before time ran out. In a last ditch effort to save what everyone had worked for, Rep. Johnson was able to amend the "brandish" definition from HB 5092 into one of the airgun bills from the Senate (SB 965), which had begun moving again. At the same time, the Senate broke the tie-bar between the two brandishing bills and moved HB 5091 alone. The end legislative result would still be the same, but now the Democrat was out of the process. As disappointing as the loss of bipartisanship was to us, we understood it was what had to be done. The limited timeframe imposed by Governor Snyder called for drastic actions. Politics.
A few days later, both HB 5091 and SB 965 had been passed and sent to Governor Snyder. Things were looking up and we were starting to feel victorious. A sense of victory from the jaws of defeat if you will. Then we received word that Governor Snyder was going to veto the airgun bills. Lame duck is a crazy time and on the last day of the session, after working until 5:30am, the Senate adjourned suddenly after having only passed 4 of the 7 bills in the Airgun Package. The lack of the complete package would have created inconsistencies in the law and it was deemed, by all parties, that it would be better to veto the 4 passed bills and redo the entire package next session. Since HB 5092 had been moved into SB 965, that meant our brandishing definition efforts would suffer the same fate and HB 5091 was vetoed too.
Here is the veto letter from Governor Snyder.
Now if you are still with us, you will remember we mentioned in the beginning that the situation is not as bad as it seems. This is because arrangements have already been made to move an 8 bill "Airgun-Brandishing" package early and quickly next session. There is new leadership in both the House and the Senate and both, along with the Governor's office, have reportedly signed off and committed.
We are once again feeling optimistic, though we are not taking anything for granted. We will be working diligently to ensure that all commitments are lived up to. Expect to see new bills submitted early on and, if promises are kept, moved quickly to the Governor.
Lastly, we want to make sure we convey a very sincere thank you to Representatives Johnson and Dillon for their hard work. Please click on their names at the top and send them a thank you too.