LANSING-The Michigan Senate on Thursday passed legislation to protect gun owners' privacy by making firearms records confidential.
Under Senate Bills 49, 834 and 881, firearms records would not be subject to requests under the Freedom of Information Act and would be available only to law enforcement officials, under certain conditions.
"I introduced Senate Bill 49 last year as there was a real need for protection for the privacy of gun owners," said Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba. "This bill ensures that no personal information can be released in Michigan. Disclosing such information is not only a threat to public safety and an invasion of privacy, but it serves no legitimate public service."
The legislation is a response to the actions of a New York newspaper that last year published the names and personal addresses of gun permit holders in two counties north of New York City.
"Gun ownership information is private and must stay that way," said Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, sponsor of SB 834. "Newspapers elsewhere have published the names of private gun owners. These bills will prevent that from happening here in Michigan."
Sen. Goeff Hansen, sponsor of SB 881, said the bills are about safeguarding the rights of Michigan residents.
"The Second Amendment is integral to our freedom and must be protected," said Hansen, R-Hart. "This legislation strengthens Michigan law to ensure that all gun owners' personal information is not jeopardized by those looking to infringe on our basic rights."
The legislation would ensure that firearms records could only be accessed or disclosed by a peace officer or other authorized individual for the following reasons:
- The individual whose firearm records are the subject of disclosure has committed an offense with the pistol that violates a state law, a law of another state or a U.S. law;
- The individual poses a threat to himself or herself or other individuals;
- The individual's firearm was used during the commission of an offense that violates a state law, a law of another state or a U.S. law; or
- To ensure the safety of a peace officer.
A violation of the law would result in a civil infraction and possibly a $500 civil fine.
Dakota Moore, a state liaison with the National Rifle Association, thanked the sponsors of the bills.
"The NRA and its membership applaud the efforts of Senators Casperson, Hansen and Pavlov to ensure that law-abiding gun owners are protected from unwarranted scrutiny and discrimination merely for exercising their fundamental and constitutional right to keep and bear arms," Moore said.
SBs 49, 834 and 881 have been sent to the Michigan House for further consideration.