LANSING, Mich. – Today, Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action, GIFFORDS, and Brady, released the following statements applauding the Michigan lawmakers for introducing a critical gun violence prevention bill aimed at disarming domestic abusers. Senate Bills 471/472 and House Bills 4945/4946 prohibit people convicted of domestic violence offenses from owning or possessing firearms. Access to a gun makes it five times more likely that a woman will die at the hands of her abuser and 65 percent of women in Michigan killed by intimate partner homicide are killed with a gun.
“Our daughter was shot and killed by an intimate partner, and while nothing can bring her back or undo the pain our family has gone through, this common-sense bill would help create a safer future where no family has to experience what mine has,” said Rick and Martha Omilian, volunteers with the Michigan chapter of Moms Demand Action whose daughter Maggie Wardle, was shot and killed in 1999 at age 19 by an ex-boyfriend. “We are grateful our lawmakers are standing up and taking action to protect victims of domestic violence and intimate partner violence. We urge them to swiftly pass this life-saving law to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and make our state a safer place.”
“When domestic abusers have access to guns, the effects can be deadly,” said Alison Shih, legal counsel at Everytown for Gun Safety. “Prohibiting convicted domestic abusers from owning or possessing a gun can help prevent gun violence and domestic violence – and save lives. We urge Michigan elected representatives to act with urgency to pass laws to protect survivors of intimate partner violence by disarming domestic abusers.”
“I’ve experienced and survived domestic violence. I know that if an abusive partner is already hurting someone they claim to love, adding a gun to the equation only escalates the situation,” said Vanessa N. Gonzalez, vice president of government and political affairs at GIFFORDS. “I’m lucky to be here, but too many women can’t say the same. When women are disproportionately affected by the deadly intersection of guns and domestic violence, it’s proof that too often, laws aren’t designed by or for women. This bill, though, introduced by State Senator Stephanie Chang and State Representative Amos O’Neal, affirms that a woman’s life is valued more than an abusive partner’s ability to own a gun. It is a huge step in the right direction to protect and save lives from domestic and gun violence. The Michigan legislature must get this bill to Governor Whitmer’s desk swiftly. There’s no time to waste.”
“Guns are the weapons of choice for domestic violence homicides in America, and female intimate partners are more likely to be murdered with a firearm than by all other means combined,” said Kris Brown, President of Brady. “Guns are not just lethal, they can be used to threaten, coerce, and psychologically terrorize victims. By prohibiting abusers from possessing firearms, Michigan is taking a crucial step toward protecting some of the state’s most vulnerable lives. Brady applauds Senator Chang and Representative O’Neal and all of the bill’s cosponsors and partners for taking a stand against domestic violence.”
Gun-related intimate partner violence is a devastating and lethal crisis facing women and families in the United States. Every month, an average of 70 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner. In Michigan, 65% of women killed by an intimate partner were killed by a gun. Additionally, intimate partner mass shootings are not uncommon, though many don’t make headlines.
Under federal law, people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence offenses are prohibited from purchasing and possessing firearms. However, because Michigan does not have a state-level law, Michigan state and local law enforcement cannot enforce this prohibition. This means survivors and victims of domestic violence are left more vulnerable to abusers who continue to possess firearms.
In February, a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit struck down a critical, long-standing gun safety law that protects domestic violence victims and keeps guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. By declaring this critical federal law to be unconstitutional, the Fifth Circuit panel would allow people in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi who are subject to domestic violence restraining orders to access a gun. If the decision is not reversed by the Supreme Court, domestic violence survivors face the prospect that their abusers can arm themselves.
In the first months of the 2023 Michigan legislative session lawmakers took widespread action on gun safety, passing three critical gun safety bills. This included passing an Extreme Risk law, which gives loved ones and law enforcement the ability to petition courts to temporarily remove access to firearms from individuals who are at risk of harming themselves and others. It is an essential tool to keeping our loved ones and communities safe but Michigan’s laws need to be strengthened to further protect victims and survivors of domestic violence by prohibiting people convicted of domestic violence offenses from possessing firearms. Lawmakers should build on this progress and pass domestic violence legislation to save the lives of the most vulnerable Michiganders.
In an average year, 1,382 people die and 2,437 are wounded by guns in Michigan. Guns are the leading cause of death among children and teens in Michigan, and an average of 103 children and teens die by guns every year, of which 31% of these deaths are suicides and 64% are homicides. Gun violence in Michigan costs $1,683 per person each year. Gun deaths and injuries cost Michigan $16.8 billion each year, of which $380.5 million is paid by taxpayers.More information about gun violence in Michigan is available here.