Michigan Democrats Advance Gun Violence Prevention Legislation

State Rep. Brenda Carter, D-Pontiac, left, and State Sen. Rosemary Bayer, D-Keego Harbor, join hands during a news conference to call for gun reform, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023, in Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

By Kyle Kaminski

March 10, 2023

Gun reforms have been a top priority for Michigan Democrats for years. And now they’re set to carry them to the legislative finish line—with plenty of support from Michiganders.

LANSING—A state Senate committee on Thursday voted to advance a package of gun safety bills that will create new “red flag” laws, establish universal background checks and help keep guns out of the hands of children.

The package of 11 bills was introduced by Senate Democrats to encourage gun safety and help prevent senseless acts of violence, like the recent shootings at Michigan State University and Oxford High School. And this week, lawmakers on the Senate Civil Rights, Judiciary and Public Safety Committee heard nearly six hours of testimony—mostly in support of the bills.

“Gun violence has taken far too many lives, shattered families and scarred communities,” Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) said in a statement. “My colleagues and I have been working alongside our fellow Michiganders—students, parents, advocates, law enforcement, lawyers and others—to craft and promote common-sense gun violence prevention policies.”

If passed into law, Senate Bills 76-86 would…

  • Require universal background checks for all guns—not just pistols
  • Create new safe storage laws to keep guns out of the hands of children and teenagers
  • Allow courts—through “Extreme Risk Protection Orders”—to take temporary possession of a gun from those who are deemed at risk of harming themselves or others 

State Sen. Kevin Hertel (D-St. Clair Shores) said universal background checks are supported both across party lines and geographic regions, and will help strengthen Michigan’s ability to enforce existing laws and keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.

State Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) said the extreme risk protection orders will not only prevent gun violence, but also help curb suicide rates bolstered by easy gun access.

“In many cases of suicide or threats against others, there are warning signs ahead of time—signs that family and loved ones too often see, but don’t have the ability to intervene,” she said. “Extreme Risk Protection Orders can and do save lives—by creating a tool to temporarily remove firearms from those who are demonstrably an immediate risk to themselves or others.”

READ MORE: Senate Democrats Introduce Slew of Gun Control Measures in Michigan

None of the bills have any Republican co-sponsors. Democrats have tried to pass versions of the bills for years, but were obstructed by the previous GOP leadership.

New polling shows that 88% of Michigan voters support passage of a law requiring any person purchasing any type of gun to go through a background check. Extreme risk protection orders and safe storage laws also have sweeping support—even among Republican gun owners and former Republican lawmakers who have since endorsed the bills.

READ MORE: Former GOP Congressmen Join Push for New Gun Reforms in Michigan

That support was evidenced, in part, by Michiganders giving hours of testimony in Senate committee hearings over the last two weeks—including a number of gun violence survivors and their family members. Attorney General Dana Nessel also spoke in support of the bills.

READ MORE: Michigan Lawmakers Hear Emotional Pleas to Pass Gun Reform Bills

Author

  • 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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