MI lawmakers debate tougher gun laws for domestic violence convictions
Wednesday, October 4, 2023
Michigan state lawmakers are moving closer to restricting gun ownership for more people who have been convicted of domestic violence.
The House Criminal Justice Committee has voted to advance two bills making possession of firearms tougher in Michigan. The proposed changes would prevent anyone convicted of domestic violence from possessing a gun or ammunition for eight years after completion of their sentence.
Rep. Amos O'Neal, D-Saginaw, chief sponsor of the bills, said the measures are needed.
"Newly convicted domestic abusers should not have easy access to deadly weapons," O'Neal asserted. "These bills put the people of Michigan first by delivering more common-sense gun reform."
Michigan's current law restricts firearms possession for people convicted of felony domestic violence, which is rarely charged. These proposals include specific misdemeanor convictions as well. Backers of the legislation say more than 30 other states have similar laws, and those states experience 10% to 15% lower rates of domestic violence deaths.
Heath Lowry, policy attorney for the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, with a survivor by his side, told lawmakers the vote means state leaders are listening to domestic violence survivors and taking their stories to heart.
"We know that domestic violence perpetrators are five times more likely to kill their victims when those abusers own a firearm, and these bills will reduce that danger," Lowry contended. "Survivors deserve the protection that these bills offer."
According to the Michigan Violent Death Reporting System, an average of 70 Michigan women and children are killed every year with a firearm by their abusers.
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