With incidents of domestic violence becoming more deadly, the Michigan Legislature passed legislation to close dangerous gaps in state law by keeping weapons out of the hands of convicted abusers
Domestic violence is a crisis facing women and families across Michigan and the United States. On a typical day, more than 20,000 phone calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide. Here in Michigan, an average of one in three families are impacted by domestic violence every year.
Domestic violence is also deeply interconnected with gun violence, as more abusers are choosing firearms as their weapon of choice. Guns ultimately exacerbate power and control dynamics, helping abusers to inflict maximal emotional and physical abuse on their partners and family.
While recent reports indicate that cases of domestic violence are slightly declining from pre-pandemic levels, researchers have found that cases are escalating into more severe abuse through use of firearms — leading to more lethal outcomes. In instances of domestic violence where a firearm is present, the risk of homicide increases by 500 percent.
Currently under state law, individuals convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor are not barred from possessing or carrying a firearm for any amount of time. To close this dangerous loophole, Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) and Sen. Sue Shink (D-Northfield Twp.) introduced Senate Bills 471, 472 and 528, with Rep. Amos O’Neal (D-Saginaw) introducing House Bills 4945 and 4946. This legislation would modify the state’s penal code — protecting domestic violence survivors by preventing those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes from possessing, using, purchasing or carrying a firearm in Michigan for eight years.
“I have worked with domestic and gun violence prevention experts for years to address the issue of domestic violence and firearms, because too many survivors face dramatically increased risk from their abusers,” said Sen. Chang. “We’ve seen how firearms and domestic violence are a dangerous combination, yet our current state laws leave open a loophole that can be exploited by abusers to obtain a firearm and wreak deadly havoc. This bipartisan legislation serves as a common-sense solution to the problem and will protect survivors in our state from further abuse.”
Sen. Stephanie Chang speaks on the floor of the Senate chamber in support of a legislative package to disarm convicted domestic abusers, helping provide relief to survivors across Michigan.
This bipartisan legislation brings Michigan into partial alignment with federal law, giving state and local law enforcement officials tools to protect survivors. Since its implementation in 1996, the federal law has successfully resulted in 17% fewer gun-related homicides among female intimate partner victims and 25% fewer gun homicides among child domestic violence victims. A state law will only serve to bolster these numbers and protect survivors from deadly outcomes.
“The issue of domestic violence touches Michiganders in all corners of our state,” said Sen. Shink. “Throughout the committee process, we’ve heard heartbreaking testimony from residents who have survived abuse, as well as from parents and friends who’s loved one was shot and killed during a domestic dispute. The research is clear: Firearms and domestic violence are a volatile combination that ends all too often in the senseless loss of life. This legislation serves as an important step to disarm abusers and protect survivors from further pain.”
Sen. Stephanie Chang and Sen. Sue Shink hear testimony from survivors, community partners and advocates on legislation to reduce gun violence in Michigan and save lives.
Measures such as these have already been implemented in 31 states across the country and Washington D.C. — including states with Republican-led Legislatures. In previous sessions, Michigan legislators from both sides of the aisle came together to introduce this as a bipartisan package, and this term, the bills passed both the Senate and House with bipartisan support. It’s clear that protecting women, children and other survivors from domestic violence is not a partisan issue — it’s simply common sense.
Due to the Legislature’s courageous action on these bills, Michigan is one step closer to joining the majority of states who have enhanced protections for survivors of domestic violence.
Everyone deserves a relationship free from domestic violence. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. You can also visit the Michigan State Police webpage on domestic violence here or the Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board here for more information.
Read more from the Michigan Senate Democrats at SenateDems.com/press.