AG Nessel, Legislators Seek to Protect Kids, Urge Secure Firearm Storage

LANSING, Mich. (Feb. 15, 2022) — Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D-Beverly Hills) was joined by Attorney General Dana Nessel, Rep. Mari Manoogian (D-Birmingham), and other safety advocates at a press conference this afternoon to urge legislative action on secure firearm storage bills that were introduced more than seven months ago on June 17, 2021 and have not yet been acted upon.

Senate Bill 550, introduced by Sen. Bayer, and House Bill 5066, introduced by Rep. Felicia Brabec (D-Ann Arbor) would require guns to be stored safely in order to prevent injury, and provide criminal penalties if failure to safely store a gun results in injury or death. Specifically, guns would have to be kept in a secure lock box, in a location a reasonable person would believe is secure, or securely locked with a locking device.

Senate Bill 553, sponsored by Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak), and House Bill 5069, sponsored by Rep. Manoogian, would make complementary changes to the sentencing guidelines to reflect changes created by the main bills.

“It remains unconscionable that our gun laws do not include commonsense safety measures. Thoughts and prayers ultimately fall short. We must act properly to address gun violence in our schools, which is why I wholeheartedly support safe storage legislation,” Attorney General Nessel said. “We fail as leaders if our response to the tragedy in Oxford is more of the status quo. I will continue to work with our partners in the legislature to get this done — for our kids, for our educators and for our communities.”

Senate Bills 551 and 552, sponsored by Sens. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) and Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), respectively, and House Bills 5067 and 5068, sponsored Reps. Brabec and Manoogian, respectively, by would exempt the sales and use tax for gun safety devices like safes, lock boxes, and trigger and barrel locks.

Unsecured firearms fuel gun violence outside the home. In incidents of gun violence on school grounds, up to 80% of shooters under the age of 18 obtained their guns from their own home, a relative’s home, or from friends, according to data collected by gun violence prevention group Everytown.

“Safely storing a firearm in the home is a widely supported and commonsense measure that has been shown to save lives and that doesn’t seem like much to ask for when you consider it could save the life of a child,” Sen. Bayer said. “I hope my colleagues who determine the agenda in the Michigan Legislature can work with us on this issue because we know this is just one way we could potentially eliminate tragedies from happening.”

Firearms were the leading cause of death in 2020 for children and teens, according to Everytown — more than motor vehicles, poisoning, cancer, or COVID-19.

“The bills that Rep. Brabec and I introduced in the House along with our counterparts in the Senate are commonsense reforms that we can all get behind, so that we never see another tragedy like what happened at Oxford High School,” said Rep. Manoogian. “They create avenues for law enforcement and prosecutors to hold irresponsible gun owners accountable, while allowing responsible gun owners the peace of mind that their firearms will never be used for nefarious purposes. Responsible gun owners and firearms safety advocates agree that committing to safe and secure firearm storage is the best way that we can ensure that lives are saved.”

Further research by Everytown concluded that 14 states — Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin — have already passed firearm storage laws known as child access prevention (CAP) laws, which state that if a minor accesses a firearm, the person who failed to adequately secure the firearm is liable.

In addition, a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association in March 2020, found safe storage firearm laws were associated with a 13% reduction in unintentional firearm fatalities among children aged 0 to 14 years.  

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