Public Act 16 is McDonald Rivet’s first standalone bill signed into law and part of significant changes signed today to promote gun safety and protect Michigan kids and residents
EDITOR’S NOTE: A photo of Sen. McDonald Rivet and other bill sponsors from today’s bill signing is included below.
LANSING, Mich. (April 13, 2023) — Today, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a package of gun safety bills establishing child access protection laws and expanding background checks in Michigan. Among the bills is Public Act 16, Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet’s first standalone legislation signed into law. It updates the state’s criminal code for safe storage of firearms for child access protection.
“I have devoted the bulk of my career to helping children and families thrive. We can’t thrive without feeling and being safe,” said Sen. McDonald Rivet. “That’s why overwhelming majorities in Michigan, including gun owners, support the action we’re taking. This is about protecting our children and preventing tragedies from upending our communities. I’m proud to stand against special interests and stand up for kids and families.”
When Michigan’s new child access protection laws take effect, an individual who owns a firearm and stores it on a premises where they know or should reasonably know a minor could access it will have to do one or more of the following:
Store the firearm in a locked container;
Keep the firearm unloaded and install a locking device, such as a trigger lock, that makes pulling the trigger impossible by anyone other than the owner or an authorized user; or
In a vehicle, store the firearm in a locked container or keep the firearm unloaded and install a locking device that makes pulling the trigger impossible by anyone other than the owner or an authorized user AND lock the vehicle if leaving it unattended.
“One in three families with children have at least one gun in the house. I grew up in one of those houses. It’s a practical, commonsense step to require safe storage around children. We’re saving lives today,” said McDonald Rivet. “I’m grateful to all my colleagues in the Legislature who voted for our gun safety package, and appreciate the bipartisan support my bill received in the House.”
The penalties on individuals who fail to follow the new safe storage requirements vary based on whether a minor does indeed obtain the firearm and whether it is used in a reckless manner inflicting injury or death. Sen. McDonald Rivet’s legislation amends the sentencing guidelines to include the new felony penalties created by bill Senate Bill 79, sponsored by Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D-West Bloomfield) and also signed into law today.
If a firearm isn’t safely stored or locked and a minor obtains it, the individual responsible may face up to 93 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.
If a minor injures themselves or someone else with the unsecured gun, the individual responsible could face five years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.
If a minor obtains the gun and “inflicts serious impairment of a body function” upon themself or another, the individual responsible faces 10 years in prison and/or a $7,500 fine.
If a minor obtains the firearm and kills someone or themself, the individual responsible for failing to safely secure the firearm could face up to 15 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
There are exemptions for minors who obtain a gun with a parent or guardian’s permission and use it under the supervision of someone over the age 18 for ranching, farming, hunting or target practice.
Gov. Whitmer signed related legislation today to exempt firearm safety devices from sales and use taxes and require federally licensed firearm dealers in Michigan to include literature, for free with the sale of a firearm, that describes the proposed safe storage requirements, among other information.
4.6 million minors in the U.S. live in homes with at least one loaded, unlocked firearm, and studies show that between 70 and 90% of guns used in youth suicides, unintentional shootings among children, and school shootings perpetrated by shooters under the age of 18 are acquired from the home or the homes of relatives or friends. Data shows that there were at least 2,070 unintentional shootings by children between 2015 and 2020 — an average of nearly one shooting per day.
A Glengariff poll released in March 2023 found that 79.8 percent of Michiganders support safe storage (child access protection) legislation.
Selected to serve as one of the Michigan Senate’s two Assistant Majority Floor Leaders, Sen. McDonald Rivet has 30 years of experience in educational and economic policy and strategic leadership. She represents the 35th Senate District.