Dem Reps., Sens. Fight to Protect MI Families

Legislation seeks to protect communities from gun violence
Thursday, February 28, 2019
State Rep. Robert Wittenberg (D-Huntington Woods) joined by House and Senate Democrats at press conference announcing extreme risk protection order package (Feb. 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.

 “Every time we see another senseless gun-related tragedy play out in the news, we ask ourselves what could have been done to stop it,” said Rep. Wittenberg. “This is an opportunity to take action. By creating a due process measure to temporarily limit access to guns for those who are considered to be a threat, we can better protect our families and communities. These bills would provide a meaningful tool to combat the gun violence epidemic plaguing our country.”

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.

“People across our state deserve a legal process to protect their family members from harming themselves or others,” said Sen. Bayer, sponsor of SB 158. “Since most deaths by suicide are committed using firearms, this legislation will have an immediate impact on saving lives.”

 “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.”

Those sponsoring the legislation at the press conference include state Reps. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) and 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. Jonathan Gold with the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics was also in attendance.

 

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