Gun Safety Reforms to ‘Stem the Tide’ of Gun Violence Epidemic in Michigan

Gun reform legislation supporters hold placards during a rally at the Michigan State Capitol, on March 15 in Lansing. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

By Kyle Kaminski

April 20, 2023

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is expected to sign the final components of a three-part package of gun safety legislation after the bills passed through the Democratic-led state Senate on Wednesday. State leaders said they could go a long way toward preventing the next mass shooting in Michigan. 

MICHIGAN—Legislation expected to be signed into law in the coming weeks aims to curb gun violence across the state by allowing family members, law enforcement, and mental health professionals a new opportunity to intervene before the next mass shooting in Michigan.

The Democratic-led Senate on Wednesday finalized four bills that would allow courts to issue “extreme risk protection orders” (ERPOs) that temporarily suspend access to guns for those who show warning signs of violence, or are found to pose a threat to themselves or others.

State Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak), who sponsored Senate Bill 83, said the new laws—paired with other recent gun safety legislation—serve as “concrete steps” to help “stem the tide of the gun violence epidemic” in Michigan. The Senate also passed House Bills 4146, 4147, and 4148, all of which were related to establishing ERPOs, also known as“red flag” laws.

Michigan state Sen. Mallory McMorrow, center, is shown at the state Capitol before the State of the State address on Jan. 29, 2020, in Lansing. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

READ MORE: Whitmer Signs Historic Legislation to Curb Gun Violence in Michigan

“This law will save lives,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement. “Often, whether the need to remove a person’s access to a firearm is acute or enduring, there are egregious and abundant warning signs.”

What Are Extreme Risk Protection Orders?

Extreme risk protection orders—which are currently used by at least 19 other states—allow loved ones (and cops) to ask judges to temporarily order the removal of guns from those who are deemed at risk of harming themselves or others. Research shows they can de-escalate dangerous situations, and reduce gun violence—including suicides and mass shootings.

Despite conspiracy theories perpetuated by the extremist-led Michigan Republican Party, the latest reforms will not give the government broad authority to “disarm” Michiganders. 

An Associated Press analysis found many states with red flag laws used them only sparingly. But in the rare instances where they’ve been used, research shows they’ve been effective. In California, for instance, red-flag laws were attributed to deterring at least 58 mass shootings.

READ MORE: Gun Safety Reforms Will Not Recreate the Holocaust in Michigan

Recent polling also shows the concept is wildly popular among Michiganders, particularly in the wake of the deadly mass shooting at Michigan State University in February. Nearly 75% of those who responded to a recent Glengariff poll—including gun owners—support the legislation. 

Nessel—who has been an outspoken proponent for the need for the red-flag laws in Michigan—has also vowed to defend the laws, should they ever be challenged in a courtroom.

“I will use every tool of my office to ensure Michigan residents are informed of these laws and that will be vigorously enforced,” Nessel said in a statement after the Senate vote this week.

READ MORE: What’s the Deal with Gun Reforms in Michigan?

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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