Bills authored by Sens. Chang and Shink would close dangerous gaps in state law by keeping deadly weapons out of the hands of convicted abusers
LANSING, Mich. (October 11, 2023) — Today, during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Michigan Senate passed Senate Bills 471, 472 and 528 to strengthen domestic violence protections in Michigan and help prevent firearm injury and death. The legislative package — sponsored by Sens. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) and Sue Shink (D-Northfield Twp.) — mirrors federal law and modifies the state’s penal code to protect domestic violence survivors by prohibiting those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes from possessing, using, purchasing or carrying a firearm in Michigan for eight years.
“Michigan is finally taking these important steps forward to save lives and protect domestic violence survivors. The intersection of firearms and domestic violence has been a crisis facing too many in our state,” said Sen. Chang. “This legislation continues to have bipartisan support and serves as a common-sense solution to protecting survivors and keeping Michigan families safe. I’m grateful for all of the domestic violence survivors, domestic violence groups, law enforcement stakeholders and gun violence groups who have worked on these bills over the past five years. And I’m proud of my colleagues in the Senate for combatting this lethal cycle of abuse and gun violence.”
When domestic abusers have access to guns, the effects can be deadly:
Access to a firearm makes it five times more likely an abusive partner will kill their female victim.
Up to one in three Michigan families are impacted by domestic violence.
According to the FBI, there were 341 domestic violence homicides in Michigan from 2003 to 2012, which include both male and female victims. Of those homicides, more than half of the victims — 51.3 percent — were killed with guns.
Nearly half of all women murdered in the United States are killed by a current or former intimate partner, and more than half of these intimate partner homicides are by firearm.
“The issue of domestic violence touches Michiganders in all corners of our state,” said Sen. Shink. “Throughout the committee process, we’ve heard heartbreaking testimonies from residents who have survived abuse, as well as from parents and friends whose loved one was shot and killed by an intimate partner. 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.”
The bills would bring Michigan law into partial alignment with current federal protections, allowing state and local prosecutors to enforce misdemeanor domestic crime prohibitions. Currently, under state law, only individuals convicted of felonies are prohibited from possessing, using, purchasing or carrying a firearm after serving their sentence and satisfying the terms of their imprisonment, parole or probation. After the eight-year period, those convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor would regain the opportunity to possess, use, purchase or carry a firearm under state law.
“Everyone deserves to feel safe in their home. Yet, too many women, children and families in our state are reeling from the impacts of domestic violence,” said Senator Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids). “And when domestic violence is accompanied by a firearm, the negative outcomes are devastating for communities. As we work to eradicate domestic violence, this is an important step to reduce the tragic loss of life.”
Thirty-one other states — including numerous Republican-led Legislatures and Washington, D.C., — have passed laws designed to protect women, children and other survivors of domestic violence by ensuring convicted misdemeanor domestic abusers cannot access, own or possess firearms. In previous sessions, Michigan legislators from both sides of the aisle came together to introduce this as a bipartisan package.