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Michigan House approves bill to carry guns without permit

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LANSING, Mich. (SINCLAIR BROADCAST GROUP) -- Michigan Republicans and gun advocates are celebrating.

The State House voted to roll back gun carrying requirements on Wednesday.

Right now in Michigan you may carry a firearm in the open, but you need training and a license to conceal.

Republican Rep. Triston Cole’s bill, which passed the State House, would remove penalties for people who hide or conceal their guns under their coat.

"This simply removes those penalties so you are still a legal law abiding citizen as long as you are legally able to possess that firearm you are carrying," he said.

Some Democrat's argue Cole's bill would hurt minorities.

"What about the black and brown man - men like me - who are killed everyday?" asked Democrat Rep. Jewell Jones. "Should another mother have to bury her child because of a tragedy that occurred because of irresponsible untrained handling of a firearm.

Pushing back against that argument is Republican House Judiciary Chairman Jim Runestad who called Rep. Jones argument ironic.

"Gun laws in many cases were instituted primarily to prevent Africans American from having weapons," said Rep. Runestad.

The Michigan Sheriff's Association Opposes Cole's bill.

The association says they aren't against carrying or possessing a weapon. What they are against is unqualified, poorly trained people carrying firearms.

"Personally I think we are going the wrong way, I say increase the training, increase the knowledge both positive and negative for the possession and use of a firearm – knowledge is power," said Sheriff Blaine Koops. "If we have an issue with law enforcement training, we don’t reduce the training we increase it."

Democrat Minority Leader Sam Singh stands with the Sheriff's Association.

"I'd rather listen to my police chief, the state police that have all come out against these bills," said Rep. Singh.

The association says of the eight Michigan police officers who died in the line of duty last year, five were killed by gun fire.

Rep. Cole questions the Sheriff's Association's argument by asking how many of those who killed in the line of duty were shot by "legal law abiding citizens?"

"None," said Cole.

As Democrats point to the gun violence epidemic sweeping the nation, Republican Rep. Lee Chatfield refuted democrat concerns.

"What we have is a society where criminals can conceal carry wherever they would like without training because they have no regard for the law and our law abiding citizens are the ones who have restrictions put on their constitutional rights," said Rep. Chatfield.

Right after the vote in the House, Cole told Sinclair Broadcast Group his bill was a "win" for the U.S. Constitution.

The bill now heads to the State Senate. We'll let you know if the bill hits the Governor's desk.

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