LANSING, Mich. — A coalition of Michigan House and Senate Democrats announced legislation at a press conference today that would create extreme risk protection orders as a critical first step toward curbing gun violence in the state.
House Bills 4283-4285 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. Robert Wittenberg (D–Huntington Woods), chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Caucus, led the group in developing the legislation alongside members of law enforcement, medical professionals and community stakeholders.
“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.
Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D–Royal Oak) sponsored Senate Bill 156 in the package, which would create the Extreme Risk Protection Order.
“The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500 percent, and 22 percent of police officer ‘line of duty’ deaths in recent years occurred while officers were responding to domestic violence calls — a heightened risk when a gun is present,” Sen. McMorrow said. “This legislation is a crucial tool to provide necessary temporary protection in an instance when someone may be a risk to themselves or others. It’s sound policy that is supported by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department and our local police departments as a necessary tool for the protection of all of our local residents, while still ensuring proper due process.”
Under an extreme risk protection 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.
Senate Bill 158, sponsored by Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D–Beverly Hills) would create penalties for people filing a false report.
“People across our state deserve a legal process to protect their family members from harming themselves or others,” Sen. Bayer said. “Since most deaths by suicide are committed using firearms, this legislation will have an immediate impact on saving lives.”
Joining the legislators at the press conference were Jared Burkhart with the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Emily Durbin, Michigan chapter leader for Moms Demand Action.
Others who sponsored bills, and who were in attendance, included Rep. Julie Brixie (D–Meridian Twp.) and Sen. Erika Geiss (D–Taylor).
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