‘It’s time’: Former GOP Congressmen Join Push for New Gun Reforms in Michigan

Students and community members gather outside of the Michigan Capitol in Lansing, Mich., on Monday, Feb. 20, 2023, for a protest calling for lawmakers to enact gun control legislation following a mass shooting on the Michigan State University campus on Feb. 13. (AP Photo/Joey Cappelletti)

By Kyle Kaminski

March 1, 2023

LANSING—Two former Republican members of Congress have thrown their support behind the gun safety bills introduced by Senate Democrats that are moving through the state Legislature—and they’re encouraging their colleagues to do the same, or else risk more Michigan lives to senseless gun violence.

Former US Reps. Fred Upton and Dave Trott released a joint statement this week:

“As strong supporters of the Second Amendment and proud Republicans, we feel it is our duty to come out in support of this legislation. Students, educators, and parents in Michigan have suffered through multiple mass shootings in the past 15 months, and Michiganders deserve action,” the lawmakers said in the statement. “This common sense gun safety reform will save lives by getting illegal guns off our streets while helping law enforcement protect our families.”

Three days after the mass shooting at Michigan State University that left three students dead and five others injured, Michigan Senate Democrats introduced several key bills to address gun safety. The sponsors of that package—which is still working its way through the Legislature this week—have since billed the reforms as urgently needed to save lives, “bipartisan in nature,” and similar to those that have been implemented in Republican states like Florida and Indiana. 

Among them: 

  • SB 76 to require a license or background check for the purchase of firearms;
  • SB 77 to broaden certain language about firearms in the state’s penal code;
  • SB 78 to update firearms references in sentencing guidelines;
  • SB 79 to provide for penalties for storing or leaving a firearm where it may be accessed by a minor;
  • SB 80 to update sentencing guidelines for weapons;
  • SB 81 to exempt firearm safety devices like safes, lock boxes and trigger and barrel locks from the sales tax;
  • SB 82 to exempt the same devices from the use tax;
  • SB 83 to enact an extreme risk protection order act (also known as a “red flag” law);
  • SB 84 to prohibit the purchase of firearms if an individual has an extreme risk protection order;
  • SB 85 to enact sentencing guidelines for making false statements in relation to an order; and
  • SB 86 to deal with court fees and service of process for extreme risk protection order actions.

None of the bills have a Republican sponsor. Democrats have sought to advance versions of the bills for years, but until this year have been blocked under conservative GOP leadership.

Upton and Trott, however, think it’s well past time for more bipartisan collaboration. 

“It will keep students, victims of domestic violence, and families safe. We must directly address the causes of violent crime that have become all too common in our cities, in schools, and in everyday life. These bills do just that,” they said in a statement. “That is why we urge all members of the Michigan legislature—regardless of party—to vote yes on these bills. It’s time.”

Last summer, Upton also split with his party and joined his Democratic colleagues from Michigan to pass the final amendments to several other major gun safety reforms in what has since been billed as the most significant gun safety package in the last three decades

Those reforms included new incentives for states to pass red flag laws that temporarily withhold guns from dangerous individuals, closing loopholes in keeping guns from people convicted of domestic assault, and providing more mental health and safety resources to public schools.

President Joe Biden signed those reforms into law in July.

READ MORE: Upton and 13 House Republicans Join Dems to Pass Gun Reforms


  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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