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Heartwell grilled by Senate panel on fishing, hunting, and gun rights

Shaun Fennell|

A state Senate committee met Thursday to grill Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s choice to chair the Michigan Natural Resources Commission. Former Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell showed up to answer questions and defend his record on gun issues. 

George Heartwell told the the Senate Advice and Consent Committee he no longer hunts or owns guns, is a catch-and-release fisher – and he defended his position as mayor that open carry firearms should not be allowed to city council meetings. 

“I held the belief, which I hold today, that the open carry of a firearm in a public meeting has a chilling effect on freedom of speech.”

Republican committee chair Peter Lucido said he’s troubled by Heartwell’s history and positions on guns. 

“At the end of the day, there’s decision-making to be done. Some things are easy. Some are more difficult.”

The committee has until early April to make its recommendation. Governor Whitmer’s last appointment to the commission was rejected.