Tisdel and Ellison: Gun safety means safe storage

Gun Rights

Given the inherent danger of firearms, it is incumbent upon owners to take precautions when using and storing their guns. Continuing our frequent collaboration in the Legislature, we — a Republican and a Democrat — recently unveiled a plan to codify safety protocols into law and incentivize gun owners to follow them.

Last November, the peace at Oxford High School was shattered. The alleged shooter, a troubled teenager, never should have had access to a handgun in the first place. Furthermore, while murders shock the conscience, accidental deaths are no less tragic. When a child discovers a gun, unsecured, around the house, injury or death often results.

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Organizations that advocate gun safety have long promoted methods for storing weapons safely. Gun owners must secure their firearms to prevent unauthorized access to deadly weapons. Many already do, and our bipartisan plan, House Bills 6350-6353, will encourage others to follow suit.

If passed, our plan will standardize safe storage practices, incorporating recommendations from the National Rifle Association, U.S. Concealed Carry Association, and Everytown for Gun Safety. A responsible gun owner who follows these practices will receive a shield against criminal and civil liability, should someone else obtain their gun and use it to commit a crime or inflict damages. Citizens who actively secure their weapons shouldn’t fear punishment if others seize their guns.

Locks, safes and other storage hardware are a necessary safety expense, so our plan will help responsible gun owners buy equipment with a $350 tax credit. Firearms training prepares gun owners to handle and store their weapons safely, and trainees will be eligible for a $350 tax credit to help pay for the course. Our plan will also offer a tax deduction for firearms liability insurance premiums.

These proposals are the kind of common-sense initiatives that should accumulate strong, bipartisan support. They won’t impose a controversial or unworkable mandate, but will incentivize and support responsible precautions. The bills offer gun owners carrots instead of threatening them with sticks.

Of course, our plan doesn’t address every aspect of gun violence. Our goal is to take positive policy steps and foster a respectful, bipartisan conversation on a tough issue. We believe our plan is a solid start toward a safer Michigan.

This bipartisan legislation shows Michiganders the good that results when people and public servants focus on our commonalities instead of our differences. The two of us, although from opposite sides of the political aisle, regularly find common ground where our philosophies align. Our gun safety plan is the sixth legislative package in which we have both sponsored bills — plans ranging from tax simplification for local businesses to stronger protections for vulnerable adults. We regularly sign onto each other’s proposals; we’ve introduced 16 different bills with one of us as sponsor and the other as a co-sponsor.

Our friendship and collaboration brought this gun safety plan into being. One of us — Rep. Mark Tisdel — formulated the initial framework shortly after Oxford and asked the other — Rep. Jim Ellison — to team up once again. We worked diligently together to finalize a multi-pronged plan that could earn consensus support and improve gun safety.

We gladly welcomed other lawmakers into the conversation. Two colleagues helped sponsor our gun safety plan: Rep. Mike Harris, a Clarkston Republican and former police officer, and Rep. Tim Sneller, a Democrat from Burton. While developing the legislation, we solicited additional advice from other legislators and outside experts.

The bipartisan plan we’ve proposed will highlight the wisdom and advantages of gun safety practices, thereby protecting the people of Michigan. We hope our joint effort also displays the wisdom and advantages of bipartisanship. Finding common ground can help our state forge a common-sense path forward.

State Rep. Mark Tisdel, R-Rochester Hills, represents the 45th House District, which includes the cities of Rochester and Rochester Hills and part of Oakland Township. State Rep. Jim Ellison, D-Royal Oak, represents the 26th House District, which includes the cities of Royal Oak and Madison Heights.

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