Mr. Meekhof (R-West Olive) placed the House-passed legislation (HB 4416, HB 4417, HB 4418 and HB 4419) into the Senate Government Operations Committee, which he chairs and tends to use as a burial ground for controversial legislation he prefers never see the light of day. Mr. Meekhof, however, does occasionally move bills out of the committee, and his spokesperson has said he has not buried it with the decision to place the bills there.
The 15 Republicans invoked the recent shooting at the Republican congressional baseball practice as further justification for the legislation. Five people, including U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) and former Michigan House staffer Matt Mika, were shot during that incident.
"We abhor the idea of politicizing a tragedy. But this incident itself was a political act and one that bears on us directly as lawmakers," the House members wrote in a letter led by Rep. John Reilly (R-Oakland Township). "It was an attempted mass assassination of Republican elected representatives. It was an attack on innocent people. It was an attack on our party. It was an attack on the Congress of the United States. It was an attack on our nation and its lawful governance. And it was only thwarted because one representative with armed security happened to be there."
A security team shot and killed the shooter.
The legislators said no law-abiding resident should be "prevented, encumbered or delayed from obtaining and carrying firearms for his or her personal safety."
Meekhof spokesperson Amber McCann said Mr. Meekhof has not decided whether to hold a hearing on the bill, "but he'll give Representative Reilly's request careful consideration."
Current law bars those who have committed various felonies and misdemeanors, as well as those involuntarily committed to an institution for mental illness, from obtaining a concealed pistol license.
Federal law already requires those purchasing firearms from a federally licensed dealer to undergo a criminal background check and supporters of the legislation have said that would ensure those wanting to obtain a concealed pistol license are law abiding. However, many firearms are purchased through private sales where no federal background check is required.
"We believe that the right to self-defense is God-given and that it is the duty of the state to protect that right for all law-abiding citizens. Regrettably, many laws still on the books infringe upon this fundamental right," the legislators wrote. "Senator Meekhof, we write to entreat you in your capacity as a senator and the leader of your chamber to expeditiously pass legislation to restore and expand the rights of law-abiding citizens to be armed and protected."
Mr. Reilly did not return a message.
Also signing the letter were Rep. Steve Johnson (R-Wayland), Rep. Joseph Graves (R-Linden), Rep. Jim Runestad (R-White Lake Township), Rep. Triston Cole (R-Mancelona), Rep. Shane Hernandez (R-Port Huron), Rep. Gary Glenn (R-Midland), Rep. Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield Township), Rep. Julie Alexander (R-Hanover), Rep. Michele Hoitenga (R-Manton), Rep. Jeff Noble (R-Plymouth), Rep. Sue Allor (R-Wolverine), Rep. Tom Barrett (R-Potterville), Rep. Jim Lower (R-Cedar Lake) and Rep. Hank Vaupel (R-Handy Township)