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Domestic violence bills fuel criticism over reach of gun rights revocations in Michigan

Beth LeBlanc, The Detroit News on

Published in News & Features

Michigan Open Carry, a gun owners rights organization, opposed the legislation in committee, calling it a "bait and switch" that offered an overly broad definition of "recent domestic partner." The group also argued the bills went beyond domestic violence offenses to include new three- to five-year restrictions on dozens of non-assaultive misdemeanors.

"Federal courts are already striking down prohibitions based on non-violent felonies," Tom Lambert of Michigan Open Carry testified in committee in September. "How are courts going to view non-violent misdemeanors?”

What's involved in 8-year gun ban

With the Monday signing of the bills, Michigan joins more than 30 states that have adopted a state-level ban on gun ownership after a conviction on a domestic violence offense, Chang said. The bills are set to take effect in late February.

The bills, which included sponsors Sen. Sue Shink, D-Northfield Township, and Rep. Amos O'Neal, D-Saginaw, passed largely along party lines in the Democratic-controlled Legislature. Versions of the domestic violence bills have been introduced in the past three legislative sessions, but gained no traction under Republican control of the House and Senate.

When it comes to domestic violence offenses, the three-bill package requires an eight-year waiting period between the end of a sentence and when an offender can again purchase and possess a firearm. The eight-year ban includes domestic violence misdemeanors and certain misdemeanors where domestic violence is involved, such as stalking, vulnerable adult abuse, destruction of property and sexual abuse.

Individuals who violated the eight-year waiting period could be charged with a felony that could result in up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.


Whitmer signed the bills Monday at a YWCA in Kalamazoo that runs a shelter and services for domestic violence survivors.

"These bills are based on a simple idea: If you've been found guilty in court for violently assaulting your partner, you should not be able to access a deadly weapon that could be used to threaten, harm of kill them," Whitmer said Monday.

"It's just common sense," the Democratic governor added.

O'Neal noted it had been a long road for the bills to see final passage.

“It only makes sense that this law is on the books to keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals," O'Neal said in a statement.


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