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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Michigan’s gun control movement lost big 16 years ago, and has yet to recover

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Kevin Reese
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Flickr- HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL
Gun control hasn't been part of the political discourse in the state for over 15 years, Gorchow said.

This Las Vegas massacre has revived the outcry against the presence of certain guns in this country. These calls for tightening gun laws, or banning the bump stock that converts a rifle into an automatic weapon, are focused on Congress.

But there won't be much of an outcry in Lansing, beyond a few tweets.

That's because the gun control side lost Michigan more than 16 years ago, according to Zach Gorchow, editor of Gongwer News Service.

This history goes back to the year 2000, less than a year after the mass shooting at Columbine High School. At that point, Michigan was a "may issue" state.

"It basically meant that if somebody wanted a permit to carry a concealed pistol, they had to apply to their county gun board and that gun board would decide whether you would get one or not," he said.

But the pro-gun activists and lawmakers at the time were working hard to make Michigan a "shall issue" state.

"Basically that was designed so that anybody who had not been convicted of a serious crime, didn't have a history of mental illness, would get a permit if they applied for it," Gorchow said. "And they had to go through some training as well."

In the 1999-2000 term, Gorchow said then-Governor John Engler signed a bill into law that indeed made Michigan a "shall issue" state.

Listen above to hear Gorchow explain the "torturous" and "extremely acrimonious" process that led to that moment, and how the legacy of that process remains in Michigan today.

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