Mar 20, 2023 - Politics

How Michigan's gun laws could change under Democratic reform

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks alongside former US Rep. Gabby Giffords at a gun violence rally in Lansing last week. (Photo: Chris DuMond/Getty)

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer alongside former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords at a gun violence rally in Lansing last week. Photo: Chris DuMond/Getty

Michigan Democrats are another step closer to fulfilling their campaign promises to enact stricter gun laws.

Driving the news: The Democratic-led Senate approved an 11 bill package last week to increase regulations on gun ownership for residents. The three gun safety proposals include: Safe storage laws (SB 79-82), universal background checks (SB 76-78) and so-called red flag laws (SB 83-86).

  • The bills were reintroduced days after last month's mass shooting at Michigan State University. The same bills were first introduced after the 2021 shooting at Oxford High School.

Details: The "red flag" legislation would allow a judge to temporarily restrict access to guns for individuals at an elevated risk of harming themselves or others. Another bill would require individuals to obtain a license to own a firearm.

  • Gun owners would be required to register their firearms purchase, including rifles and shotguns sold outside of federally licensed dealers, such as gun shows.
  • Individuals who inherit a gun from their family would also have to obtain a license.
  • The package would also implement safe storage laws, which would levy penalties for leaving a firearm where a minor could access it.

Of note: Michigan law currently requires rifle or shotgun buyers to be at least 18 years old, and at least 21 to purchase a handgun from a federally licensed dealer — though some licenses allow 18 year olds to purchase handguns from private sellers.

What they're saying: "The shooter at MSU was waving red flags all over the place," Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) said during a Senate floor speech last week. "This legislation (SB 83) would've given his father, who expressed concerns, the opportunity to do something."

  • "Had the (Extreme Risk Protection Order) been in place, three people would be alive today," Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) said.
  • Some Republicans argued on the floor last Thursday against stricter gun regulations, saying the state needs to invest in door locks, cameras and ID badges.
  • "We just had an incident where a gunman walked into an open school building and we don't think we need to invest more in security?" said Sen. Joseph Bellino (R-Monroe).

What's next: The bills now move to the state House, where they could be voted on as soon as this week.

  • Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signaled she will sign the bills.

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