LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – The Michigan Senate passed a series of gun reform bills just a month after the shooting on Michigan State University’s campus which claimed the lives of three students.
The bills that passed would require background checks for all gun purchases in the state, allow for select people to seek court orders to take away firearms from those determined dangerous, and penalize gun owners whose guns fall into the hands of children.
Numerous senators spoke in support of the bills, including Senator Kevin Hertel (D-St. Clair Shores) who urged support for universal background checks to end a “two-tiered system” in the state.
“Over the last month, I have spent many, many hours talking with students, reading letters from students in my district who were impacted by gun violence, whose friends were killed by senseless gun violence. These young people are mourning their friends and at the same time, they are coming here to the Capitol to talk about the important policies that we need to work on to reduce gun violence in our communities,” Senator Hertel later added, “You see, it’s simple. Background checks save lives. They keep guns out of the hands of individuals who should not have them.”
Senator Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) told her senate colleagues that the ERPO laws would have positive effects like other states that passed the legislation, and that it would save women’s lives.
“I also want to just address this last point about women and empowerment. I think that the greatest thing that we can do in terms of empowering women when it comes to gun violence is to make sure that we take the guns of the hands of people who are a danger to them,” Senator Chang said, “We know that the bills that are before us—whether it’s the extreme risk protection order or universal background checks—will actually save women’s lives in domestic violence situations and in many others. So to me it is very clear that if we want to move forward with empowering women, we have to start by ensuring we are protecting people’s lives.”
Some Senators including Senator Joseph Bellino (R-Monroe) critiqued the bills as unconstitutional and overreaching.
“These bills are a serious infringement on the Second Amendment rights and privacy of law-abiding Michigan residents, and they will not alleviate future violence — because criminals intent on doing harm don’t care about the law,” Senator Bellino said. “These overreaching bills will give people a false sense of security — while restricting everyone’s right to own a firearm, to hunt or even to defend themselves and their family.”
Senator Michael Webber (R-Rochester Hills) criticized the bill package as falling short of reducing gun violence in the state.
“They do nothing to improve safety measures in our schools and universities and they do nothing to ensure laws already on the books are enforced,” Senator Webber, “My amendment seeks to prevent this.”
He proposed an amendment which would extend $800 million to safety grants for K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities for the use of installing cameras, electronics, lock systems, door blocks, and other security measures, but was rejected.
Senators Bellino and Senator Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) both attempted to implement amendments to the package of bills which would amend SB 83, but Senator McMorrow’s amendment passed inserting the following section into the bill regarding ERPO laws.
“(h) If the court has ordered the restrained individual to surrender the individual’s firearms and ammunition immediately, a statement that the law enforcement agency designated under subdivision (g) shall proceed to seize the restrained individual’s firearms and ammunition not later than 24 hours after the restrained individual is served with or receives actual notice of the extreme risk protection order, after first giving the restrained individual an opportunity to surrender the firearms and ammunition,” amendment said.
The ERPO laws would allow people such as a spouse, family member, former spouse, or mental health professional to seek a court order to temporarily prevent someone from owning or buying a firearm.
The bills’ passing also comes after numerous rallies at the Capitol with public outcry for gun reform including one organized by MSU student survivors of the shooting from Feb. 13, who were joined by state legislators and U.S. Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing).
The number one responsibility of elected leaders is to protect your citizens from harm, Slotkin said, and the number one killer of young people under 21 is gun violence.
“So you either decide that you give a crap about children and you’re going to do something about what is killing them or you cannot say you care about children. You cannot claim you care about children,” Slotkin said at the rally.
The package of bills will go to the House for a vote in the near future.