Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has made a rare move for a Republican state executive: He rebuffed the National Rifle Association.
Snyder vetoed a bill on Thursday that had pitted gun rights advocates against former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords and anti-domestic violence organizations.
The measure would have overhauled Michigan’s concealed permit applications in a way that would have allowed people who faced restraining orders as a result of domestic violence or stalking allegations to obtain guns, as long as their orders didn’t specifically restrict their access to firearms.
The NRA and gun rights advocates said those fears were overblown – but Snyder rejected their arguments in a statement issued on Thursday.
“We simply can’t and won’t take the chance of exposing domestic abuse victims to additional violence or intimidation,” Snyder said.
“There are certainly some reforms that can improve the way Michigan issues concealed pistol licenses and we support the rights of law-abiding firearm owners, but it’s crucial that we leave in place protections for people who already have endured challenges and abuse,” he said.
It was a rare stand by a Republican governor – and in Snyder’s case, one who’s won twice in a state President Barack Obama carried and has been mentioned as a potential national candidate – against an organization that counts much of the party’s base as members.
The NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action had urged its members on Tuesday to contact Snyder and lobby him to sign the bill, calling domestic violence groups’ concerns a “false assertion.”
“Simply put, if an individual is a domestic-abuser and has been charged or convicted as such, or a judge has made a determination that the individual should not be allowed to purchase or possess a firearm, that person will be prohibited from receiving a concealed pistol license under [the bill],” the NRA said then. “No exceptions.”
But in his veto letter to state lawmakers, Snyder said that “victims of domestic abuse may not know to ask the court for a specific restriction on the subject’s ability to purchase and possess firearms.”
After the veto, the NRA released a statement accusing the other side of spreading false information.
“Once again, national gun ban groups, led by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, are exploiting the issue of domestic violence to push their extreme agenda,” said Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “Bloomberg and the other national anti-gun groups know that the only way they can further their agenda is to lie and try to scare people.”
It’s unclear what recourse the NRA has against Snyder. Unlike federal candidates who live in fear of a challenger to their right, the Michigan governor is just beginning his second term in office and is barred from running for re-election.