LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – On June 6, 2024, a group of Republican representatives in the Michigan House introduced House Bill 5792, which seeks to designate the AR-15 as the official state rifle.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Brian BeGole (R-Perry), alongside Reps. Rachelle Smit, Angela Rigas, Dave Prestin, Mike Harris, Pat Outman, Jay DeBoyer, Joseph Aragona, Jamie Thompson, Robert Bezotte, Gregory Alexander and Tom Kunse. The legislation was subsequently referred to the Committee on Government Operations.

Who is the main sponsor of the bill?

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The bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. Brian BeGole, has a long history in law enforcement, having served over 30 years, including six years as the Shiawassee County Sheriff. BeGole was elected to represent Michigan’s 71st House District in November 2022, an area encompassing parts of Shiawassee, Saginaw, and Genesee counties.

BeGole’s background includes a focus on public safety and efficient use of taxpayer money, which he emphasized during his tenure as sheriff. His accomplishments include updating police equipment, restoring road patrols, and organizing active shooter trainings.

Rep. Brian BeGole’s introduction of the bill aligns with his commitment to protecting constitutional rights, including the Second Amendment. His extensive background in law enforcement and his focus on public safety form a significant part of his political identity. However, the move to designate the AR-15 as Michigan’s state rifle will most likely be seen by many as a provocative statement in the broader national debate on gun control.

What is an AR-15?

House Bill 5792, if passed, would designate the AR-15 as Michigan’s official state rifle. The AR-15, a semi-automatic rifle designed by ArmaLite in the 1950s, is known for its modularity and widespread use in both civilian and military contexts. The “AR” in the name of an AR-15 stands for “ArmaLite Rifle” not “assault rifle.”

The rifle is highly configurable, allowing users to swap out components such as the trigger, pistol grip, and scopes. It is popular among gun enthusiasts for its versatility and is often used in sports shooting and hunting.

Democratic lawmaker pushes back on legislation.

The introduction of this bill has sparked controversy and criticism with Michigan State Senator Kevin Hertel, a Democrat, expressing his disapproval on social media platform X stating, “Instead of legitimately trying to address our gun violence crisis, House Republicans chose to introduce a bill designating the AR-15 – a deadly weapon with no unique ties to our state – as our official state rifle. These are not serious people. Michiganders deserve better.”

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Critics of the the AR-15 say it’s a weapon that’s often associated with mass shootings across the country including in Uvalde, Texas and the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. These shootings have led to calls for stricter gun control measures by advocates who emphasize the rifle’s potential for causing significant harm due to its high velocity and capability for rapid fire.

Supporters of the weapon argue that the rifle is a commonly owned firearm in the United States and is used responsibly by millions of law-abiding citizens for sport shooting and hunting.

The debate over House Bill 5792 is likely to be intense, reflecting the polarized views on both gun rights and public safety in the United States. As the bill moves through the legislative process, it will be scrutinized by both supporters and opponents, each side bringing their perspectives on the role of firearms in society.

The reasoning behind Rep. Brian BeGole’s introduction of the legislation is unknown. Michigan News Source reached out to him but he did not return our request for comment. The only Republican lawmaker who responded to our inquiry was Rep. Angela Rigas whose answer to why she co-sponsored the bill was “Because several other states have an official state rifle.”