OAKLAND TWP. (WWJ) – Although he says he hates to politicize a tragedy, a Michigan lawmaker is linking the gun rights debate to an attack this month at a Virginia baseball field.

State Rep. John Reilly, (R-Oakland Township), sent a letter on Monday to  Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof imploring him to work with his colleagues to pass legislation that would allow citizens to carry concealed guns without a permit in Michigan.

The four-bill legislative package, passed by the House June 7, would remove the restriction of requiring a license to carry a concealed pistol (known as a CPL) and let people voluntarily get education or training only if they wish since a permit would not be required.

“The recent events near Washington illustrate just how important it is to give legal gun owners back the right to carry a firearm without a government-issued permit,” said Reilly, who represents District 46. “The concealed pistol licensing requirement does not prevent crime; it only places unfair restrictions on law-abiding citizens. Our communities will be safer once lawful men and women have more freedom to carry a concealed firearm to defend themselves against criminals if necessary.”

[View a copy of the letter]

The letter, signed by Reilly as well as 14 other Michigan House legislators, alludes to the June 14 attack in Virginia in which U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise; former staffer Matt Mika, an Oakland County-native; staffer Zachary Barth, and two police officers shot during a morning baseball practice.

The gunman, 66-year-old James Hodgkinson of Illinois, is believed to have used a Soviet-era SKS 7.62-millimeter caliber rifle equipped with a high-capacity magazine, a law enforcement source told CNN.

Although Hodgkinson was shot dead by armed police, Reilly and his colleagues believe the incident demonstrates the necessity for everyday citizens to carry guns.

“We abhor the idea of politicizing a tragedy. But this incident itself was a political act, and one that bears on us directly as lawmakers,” the letter reads. “It was an attempted mass assassination of Republican elected representatives. It was an attack on innocent people. It was an attack on our party. It was an attack on the Congress of the United States. It was an attack on our nation and its lawful governance. And it was only thwarted because one representative with armed security happened to be there.”

Opponents of the “right to carry” bills say not requiring concealed pistol licenses — and the training required to get them — could pose dangers to police and the public.

House Bills 4416-19, approved by the House on June 7, were referred to the Senate Government Operations Committee.

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