State lawmakers pushing for bill to penalize local governments who violate state gun law

EAST LANSING, MI (WLNS) – Gun regulation was one of the topics up for discussion during Wednesday night’s East Lansing City Council meeting.

The conversation surrounded pending legislation in the state house which says local governments can’t create their own gun laws that could conflict with state laws, and if they do, they could be penalized.

Since 1990, under Michigan law, local governments cannot create their own restrictions on gun sales, ownership, or possession of firearms that are different from what the state law mandates, and right now, lawmakers in the house are pushing for a bill to amend it, to penalizing local governments who do.

“So what we’re doing is allowing an individual who feels like the local government has exceeded that authority, to file an injunction against the local government that created that ordinance and then hold responsible to the people who enacted that provision,” State Rep. Tom Barrett (R) Grand Ledge said.

Elected officials who knowingly impose those restrictions, can be slapped with a big fine, and under this bill, public funds could not be used to defend or reimburse them for court costs.

“The restriction on the ability to defend public officials with public money, who are doing their public duties, is a real concern, it’s very quite onerous,” East Lansing City Attorney Thomas Yeadon said.

Yeadon said while at this point, he doesn’t believe the city has ordinances that impose such restrictions, the idea is concerning.

“The problem is, if someone claims that they do, like we have all sorts of regulations that regulate retail, sales, the location of retail sales, if someone asserts that they’ve been adversely affected by one of those ordinances in this context, there’s a real question of whether we want to or would be able to have the court decide that fact without significant risk of adverse monetary consequences,” Yeadon said.

“Your constitutional rights don’t change depending on which municipality you happen to reside in, in Michigan,” Barrett said. “Your constitutional rights are those guaranteed throughout the whole state.”

The bill is still in the house up for consideration. East Lansing city officials are going to continue the conversation with how to move forward with it.

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