Michigan will now be among the states with universal background checks required for firearm sales in the state, adding the requirements to private sales of what are termed long guns, it seems. Formerly, purchases from federally licensed dealers already required such checks, as did sales of handguns from any source in Michigan. The two categories of firearms are sometimes treated differently in regulations around guns.
Polling shows universal background checks for gun sales constitute a widely supported option for responding to the crisis of gun violence in the U.S., which continues to claim lives across age groups, including young children, over 75 of whom have already died from gun violence in the United States this year. In an age bracket including most teenagers, over 450 deaths from gun violence in the U.S. have already been recorded since January 1, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which collects such data for public viewing.
Alongside these details, polling data originating with YouGov found that 82 percent of overall respondents supported the implementation of universal background checks around the nation covering both private gun sales and those through federally licensed dealers, and other polls have found similar outcomes. Even (some) Republicans agree with the idea. In the YouGov polling, the portion of respondents from the party who opposed the concept didn’t even reach one in five.
And yet, GOP officials resist. The new initiatives in Michigan come after Democrats took unified control of both chambers of the state legislature and the governorship last year. (The party already had some of that policy leverage, including via Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s first term, after which she won another by a large margin despite consistent targeting from Trump and allies of his.)
Whitmer has now signed a collection of gun safety bills including the measures establishing universal background checks. Also included were rules outlining demands for the secured storage of firearms in environments where minors may have access to the scene. Locking devices or a locked container are required, and they’re to be stored without ammunition inside. Penalties for non-compliance were included in the bevy of legislation, as were guidelines for the dissemination of relevant warning materials around the demands for storage.
“Today, we are turning our pain into purpose and honoring those we have lost with commonsense gun violence prevention legislation supported by a majority of Michiganders,” Whitmer said. “Universal background checks and safe storage are long-overdue steps we are proud to take today that will save lives by keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and domestic abusers and children in the home. I want to thank my partners in the legislature for getting this done, the advocates who fought so hard to make this happen, and every Michigander impacted by gun violence who shared their stories. We will keep working together to prevent mass shootings, reduce gun violence, and save lives.”
Other progress on gun policy includes the recent approval by state legislators in Washington state of a ban on the sale of assault weapons. States with such restrictions are slowly approaching a dozen in number.