A bill to reform Michigan’s handgun registration law has been introduced. Michigan handgun registration was originally passed 90 years ago in 1927 and may have been used as an example for the National Firearms Act of 1934. After The Mitten State required a license to obtain a pistol, another statute was added to make it illegal to possess a short barreled rifle or shotgun in 1931.
The bill that became the National Firearms Act originally required licensing and registration of all pistols, as well of all short barreled rifles and shotguns. Pistols were stripped from the bill, leaving the anachronistic regulation of short barreled rifles and shotguns. Such oddities and orphans in the law are far too common.
Michigan eventually removed their state ban on short barreled rifles and shotguns, in deference to the federal regulation, in 2014. The current bill proposes more reforms by making the 1927 vintage pistol registration voluntary.
Under current law, a person cannot purchase, carry, possess, or transport a pistol in Michigan without first having obtained a license for it. The person then turns the license back in to authorities, officially registering the pistol.
(Rep. Lee) Chatfield’s house bill 4554 would make that last step optional, and eliminate the $250 fine for not registering. It would also allow people who have already registered to request the Michigan State Police remove their information from the registry.
“There is no need for state government to maintain an exhaustive list of law-abiding citizens who legally purchase pistols,” Chatfield said in a press release.
He said Michigan was one of only six states to require registration right now, and it did little to fight crime.
Firearm registration has been shown to be a very poor method of reducing crime. It enhances the belief that the purpose of the system is to enable eventual confiscation. The Canadian pistol registration system has never been important in solving even a single homicide in 75 years of use. The Michigan system has been similarly ineffective
The reform bill, HB 4554, retains the licensing requirement, but eliminates the requirement to register the pistol. From the bill:
The purchaser may return 1 copy of the license to the licensing authority. The purchaser may return the copy to the licensing authority in person by first-class mail or certified mail to the proper address of the licensing authority.
(Line outs and additions have been edited for clarity.The change is an incremental step to only eliminate the registration system.) A similar bill failed to pass the legislature in 2016.
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