Dem Reps., Sens. Fight to Protect MI Families

Legislation seeks to protect communities from gun violence
Thursday, February 28, 2019

LANSING — A coalition of House and Senate Democrats announced legislation at a press conference today to establish extreme risk protection orders as a critical first step toward curbing gun violence in Michigan. State Rep. Robert Wittenberg (D-Huntington Woods), chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Caucus, led the group in developing this legislation alongside members of law enforcement, medical professionals, and community stakeholders. House Bills 4283-85 and Senate Bills 156-158 would allow judges to issue protective orders for individuals when law enforcement or family members prove they pose a clear and present risk of harm to themselves or others. State Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) sponsored House Bill 4284 in the package.

“We recently marked the 3rd anniversary of the Kalamazoo shooting that left six of our neighbors dead and two critically injured. As our community struggles to heal, gun violence continues to have a devastating effect on families throughout the state,” said Hoadley. “We can no longer sit idle in the face of tragedy; it’s time for us to take meaningful action. I am proud to stand with my colleagues to reaffirm every Michiganders’ right to live free from gun violence.”

For a judge to issue an extreme risk protection order, the court would have to consider testimony, documents and other evidence in support of the request, including whether the person had previously inflicted or threatened to inflict personal injury or harm to others and any other facts the court deems relevant. Under the order, law enforcement could take temporary possession of the individual’s firearm, and the individual would be prohibited from purchasing new firearms while the order is in effect.

“Time and time again, we have witnessed tragedies unfold which could have been prevented with proactive steps, including restricting access to firearms for those with acute mental health issues,” said Oakland County Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard. “This legislation will provide a due process path to remove firearms from those who are a danger to themselves or others while protecting rights of lawful abiding citizens. I am hopeful the state of Michigan supports this policy which many other states have passed.”

Currently, eleven states have a similar law in place. Connecticut and Indiana have long standing laws that allow law enforcement to petition courts to temporarily remove an individual’s access to firearms. A 14-year analysis of the law’s effect in Connecticut estimated that for every 10-20 risk warrants served, one suicide was prevented.

“Gun violence is devastating, all too common, and preventable,” said Emily Durbin, Michigan Chapter Leader for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “In times of risk and crisis, access to a firearm can turn threats into tragedies. People closest to those at risk can often see the warning signs when there is still a chance to intervene. These types of laws save lives, and we are grateful to the sponsors of this legislation for their work to help make our communities safer. Our members — mothers, fathers, gun owners and survivors of gun violence — will be out in force to encourage our elected officials to pass these important measures.”

Others sponsoring the legislation at the press conference included state Rep. Julie Brixie (D-Meridian Township) and state Sens. Rosemary Bayer (D-Beverly Hills), Erika Geiss (D-Taylor), and Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak). In addition, Dr. Johnathan Gold with the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics was also in attendance.

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