Sens. Chang, Schmidt and Reps. Rendon, O’Neal working with domestic violence experts to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of abusers
LANSING, Mich. (Oct. 6, 2021) — Today, a group of bipartisan state lawmakers introduced bills to protect women, children, and survivors of intimate partner violence. Sens. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) and Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City), and Reps. Daire Rendon (R-Lake City) and Amos O’Neal (D-Saginaw), introduced Senate Bills 678 and 679 and House Bills 5371 and 5372, respectively, to prohibit abusers convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes from possessing firearms for eight years.
These new bills will bring Michigan law into partial alignment with current federal protections, allowing state and local prosecutors to enforce misdemeanor domestic crime prohibitions. They will also ensure firearms stay out of the hands of convicted domestic abusers.
“Survivors of domestic violence endure unimaginable pain and betrayal. These bills will help ensure they are protected from further harm perpetrated by their abusers,” Sen. Chang said. “Convicted abusers should not have access to deadly weapons given what we know about domestic violence and how things can escalate. This legislation is a common-sense, bipartisan solution to protecting survivors in our state.”
“We must come together to protect victims of domestic violence,” Sen. Schmidt said. “By introducing these bills during National Domestic Violence Awareness month, we are highlighting gaps in state law that must be addressed to protect women and families.”
Gun-related domestic violence is a deadly crisis facing women and families in Michigan. Every month, an average of 57 women in the U.S. are shot and killed by intimate partners. Additionally, 91 women were shot and killed by an intimate partner in Michigan from 2015 to 2019, and access to a firearm also makes it five times more likely an abusive partner will kill their female victim.
“The importance of this bill cannot be stressed enough. It will save lives. In 2020 and 2021 we have seen a disturbing increase in domestic violence homicides and ultimately, this bill is about homicide prevention,” said Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy. “I thank the legislators for tackling this crucial issue and for working with my office for years on crafting this important language.”
“We must join together to protect our communities from the domestic violence and gun violence that is harming and traumatizing women and families in our state,” Rep. O’Neal said. “These bipartisan bills will create the meaningful change needed to protect survivors of domestic abuse by ensuring that domestic abusers cannot possess a firearm.”
Michigan is currently in the minority of states that do not prohibit abusers convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes from possessing firearms. Over the past several years, 32 states — including numerous Republican-led legislatures, and Washington, D.C. — have passed more than 50 new laws designed to protect women, children, and survivors of domestic violence by ensuring convicted misdemeanor domestic abusers cannot access, own, or possess firearms.
Research has found that the current federal law prohibiting gun purchase and possession by people convicted of domestic violence-related misdemeanors led to 17% fewer gun-related homicides among female intimate partner victims and 25% fewer gun homicides among child domestic violence victims. This new bill will partially close the current gap in Michigan’s state law.
“Domestic and sexual violence agencies around the state often cope with the shock and trauma of watching resilient survivors and children who have already endured too much lose their lives in tragic and preventable homicides,” said Elinor Jordan, Senior Law & Policy Manager with the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence. “We urge lawmakers to act quickly to give survivors and their children the chance to simply live.”
“We are grateful to Senator Chang and all of those involved for taking this critical step toward protecting women and children from gun violence and domestic violence,” said Emily Durbin, Chapter Leader of the Michigan chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Guns do not belong in the hands of domestic abusers, and it is far past time for our state to pass this common-sense measure to protect our communities from domestic gun violence. We are proud that our lawmakers are standing with us as we continue to advocate for meaningful change.”