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On October 11, 2023, the Michigan Senate approved Senate Bills 471, 472, and 528, aiming to bolster domestic violence protections in the state.

This move comes during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The legislation, sponsored by Senators Sue Shink (D-Northwest Washtenaw & most of Jackson County) and Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), seeks to align Michigan laws with federal statutes by modifying the state penal code. The proposed change would prevent individuals convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from owning or using firearms in Michigan for a duration of eight years.

Senator Shink commented on the matter, stating, “The issue of domestic violence touches Michiganders in all corners of our state. 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.”

Data
from the advocacy group Everytown Research emphasizes the potential dangers when domestic abusers have access to firearms, noting that:

  • Abusive partners with firearms are five times more likely to kill female victims.
  • On average, 70 women are killed monthly by intimate partners using guns.
  • A significant number of women have either faced gun threats or have been shot at by intimate partners.
  • Over 50% of mass shootings in the past decade involved the shooter targeting an intimate or family member.

Furthermore, statistics
from Haven of Oakland County indicate that domestic violence remains a pressing concern in Michigan:

  • Annually, over 100 domestic violence-related deaths are recorded in the state.
  • One in three Michigan families faces the impacts of domestic violence.
  • Across the U.S., more than one million people annually report violent assaults by partners.

The FBI’s records
from 2003 to 2012 show 341 domestic violence homicides in Michigan, with 51.3% of these victims killed using firearms.

The new legislative package would update Michigan’s laws to mirror certain federal protections, thereby enabling state and local prosecutors to act against misdemeanor domestic crimes involving firearms. Currently, Michigan’s laws restrict only felony convicts from firearm possession, use, or purchase post-sentence completion. With the new change, after the stipulated eight years, individuals convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge can regain their firearm rights.

“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.”

Michigan joins 31 other U.S. states, including Washington, D.C., and several with Republican-led legislatures, have already implemented laws restricting firearm access for misdemeanor domestic violence offenders. This initiative in Michigan follows a trend of bipartisan cooperation from previous legislative sessions.

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