FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 20, 2023
Gov. Whitmer Signs Gun Violence Prevention Legislation to Keep Guns Out of the Hands of Criminals, Keep Our Communities Safe
LANSING, Mich. – Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed bipartisan, commonsense gun violence prevention bills banning those convicted of domestic violence from buying, owning, or transporting firearms for eight years after sentencing, helping ensure that violent criminals cannot harm others and that survivors of domestic violence are protected from further violence. At the signing, Governor Whitmer was joined by domestic violence survivors, advocates, and state leaders who worked for the passage of the legislation.
“Keeping Michiganders – especially young women – safe and healthy is a top priority, and these bills will take long overdue steps to protect individuals from abuse,” said Governor Whitmer. “As a former prosecutor and as governor, I am proud to sign this bipartisan legislation to prevent abusers from accessing firearms. Together, we can make Michigan a safe and welcoming place for everyone.”
“We are unfortunately all too familiar with the deadly consequences that happen when domestic abusers have access to guns – our daughter Maggie’s life was stolen by an intimate partner with access to a gun,” said Rick and Martha Omilian, volunteers with the Michigan chapter of Moms Demand Action whose daughter Maggie Wardle, was shot and killed in 1999 at age 19 by an ex-boyfriend. “After nearly a decade of advocacy, we’re honored to see this lifesaving bill – a bill that may have saved our daughter’s life, and will save many others – signed into law. We thank Governor Whitmer for exemplifying what responsible leadership looks like and honoring our daughter, and all of those whose lives have been lost or impacted by abusers with access to firearms, with action.”
“We are committed to doing what we can to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous, convicted criminals,” said Col. James F. Grady II, director of the Michigan State Police. “These bills give our troopers a valuable tool in the fight to keep survivors of domestic violence safe.”
House Bill 4945 updates the sentencing guidelines to prohibit those convicted of domestic violence from buying or owning a gun or ammunition for eight years.
“Folks, we finally did it! What a monumental day — we finally got these bills across the finish line. It has been a long road to get here, as this was the second time I introduced this legislation. Michigan is continuing to take steps to protect its people, all people! Today we are enshrining safeguards to protect domestic violence survivors from gun violence,” said state Representative Amos O’Neal (D-Saginaw), sponsor of House Bill 4945. “It only makes sense that this law is on the books to keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals.”
Senate Bill 471 prohibits the possession or use of firearms and ammunition by persons convicted of a misdemeanor involving domestic violence.
“Domestic violence is a serious problem in our state. We know from the data and from hearing directly from survivors that domestic violence and firearms are a deadly mix. Women in domestic violence situations are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if their abuser has access to a firearm. After many years of work on this legislation to protect domestic violence survivors from firearm death or injury, I am happy that this day is finally here,” said state Senator Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), sponsor of Senate Bill 471. “I’m grateful to Governor Whitmer for signing these bills and proud of the work that Rep. O’Neal, Sen. Shink and I have done to lift up the voices of domestic violence survivors and champion this commonsense policy solution with bipartisan support.”
Senate Bill 528 defines additional domestic violence offenses that result in disqualification.
“I’m proud this legislation to protect survivors of domestic violence has passed the state legislature, and Governor Whitmer is signing it today,” said State Senator Sue Shink (D-Northfield Twp.), sponsor of Senate Bill 528. “We all know firearms and domestic violence can be a volatile combination that ends all too often in the senseless loss of life. I’m thankful to the brave survivors who have spoken up about the need for this legislation, as well as the parents and friends whose loved ones were shot and killed by intimate partners.”
“Survivors like Rick and Martha Omilian have been waiting for a law like this for decades, to protect victims and survivors of domestic abuse,” said Celeste Kanpurwala, chapter lead for the Michigan chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We applaud the hard work of this legislature and our tenacious Governor in getting this life saving bill signed into law – in honor of Maggie Wardle and so many others whose lives have been stolen by their domestic abusers.”
“Survivors and advocates have spent years telling us about the increased risk of danger when a firearm is present,” said Johanna Kononen, the Director of Law and Policy at the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence. “With this legislation, Governor Whitmer delivers a solution that responds to a very real threat faced by survivors across the state. We applaud her continued work with our leaders in the legislature to listen to the voices of survivors and make real efforts to reduce gun violence in Michigan.”
Investing in Public Safety
As a former prosecutor, Governor Whitmer has prioritized protecting communities by investing $1.5 billion in public safety. The governor launched Operation Safe Neighborhoods, a statewide crackdown on crime that has recovered more than 500 illegal guns from people who cannot legally be in possession of a gun due to prior criminal history. Earlier this year, the governor signed a package of commonsense gun safety bills establishing universal background checks for all firearm purchases, safe storage requirements, and extreme risk protection orders.