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Analysis of Michigan Gun Safety Legislation

The Michigan State Capital building as seen from the air.

Michigan lawmakers have approved bills to implement three gun safety reforms: Expanded background checks, safe storage requirements, and extreme risk protection orders. The following explains how the policies can help minimize gun violence and death.

Background Checks

An expansion of Michigan’s background check law to include all firearms.
Michigan’s background check law is a permit-to-purchase law for private sales of pistols and a background check-only law for purchases from federally licensed firearms dealers. But there are gaps that could allow those legally prohibited from having firearms to purchase one. For example, there is currently no background check or purchaser licensing requirement for purchase of a long gun from a private seller.1

A 2015 study found that 22% of Americans who acquired their firearm in the prior two years did so without completing a background check.2 States that go beyond the federal background check requirements have seen significant reductions in firearm homicides, suicides, and trafficking.3
House Bills 4138 and 4142 were signed into law April 13. The legislation will likely take effect the spring of 2024.

Safe Storage Requirements

Implementation of a safe storage requirement for firearms that could be accessible by minors, along with penalties for violations.
There was no statutory requirement or penalty in Michigan for a person who does not store their gun safely, which allows for young children or teenagers to access, transport or fire the weapon at themselves or others.

Strong child access protection (CAP) laws, like the Michigan bills signed into law, have been associated with lower rates of hospitalization for child firearm injuries than states with weak CAP laws. CAP laws have also been associated with a 26% decrease in nonfatal gun injuries for minors, and lower rates of teen suicide by firearm.4
Senate Bills 79–82 were signed into law April 13. The legislation will likely take effect the spring of 2024.

Extreme Risk Protection Orders

Establishment of Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO), which would allow the temporary confiscation of firearms from individuals deemed by a court process to be a danger to themselves or others.
A growing body of research suggests ERPOs are tools to prevent various forms of gun violence. A study estimated that Indiana’s ERPO law was associated with a 7.5% reduction in firearm suicides, while Connecticut’s extreme risk law was associated with a 13.7% reduction in firearm suicides.

A study in California examined 159 orders issued between 2016 and 2018 and found that in 21 orders, the subject showed clear signs that they intended to commit a mass shooting and after the orders were issued, no mass shootings, suicides, or homicides occurred.5
Senate Bill 83 and House Bills 4146–4148 were signed into law in May. The legislation will likely take effect in the spring of 2024.
Paul Stankewitz, policy advocate for MCC, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee.

Violence in Society Noted as Underlying Issue in MCC Testimony for Gun Reforms

Legislation to implement gun safety reforms in Michigan were publicly supported by MCC as “steps on a journey toward a culture that values life, recognizes and includes the isolated among us, and seeks to bring safety to our communities,” according to MCC testimony delivered to House and Senate committees.

MCC testified in favor of legislation introduced to require gun owners to safely store their guns at home (safe storage), expand background check requirements on gun purchases (universal background checks), and implement extreme protection orders intended to temporarily remove guns from people who may pose a threat to themselves or others (extreme risk protection orders or red flag laws).

MCC Policy Advocate Paul Stankewitz noted the Catholic Conference’s support for the bills stem from MCC’s opposition to violence in society because of its threat to human life.

“We need to begin taking policy actions, as a society, in a coherent, holistic manner to embrace and foster a culture of life,” Stankewitz said. “We need to face facts, that gun violence, be it homicide or suicide, is a burden upon our society, devalues life, and is degrading our culture.”

Stankewitz noted that this is not just about the shooting that took place at Michigan State University in February 2023, or at Oxford High School in 2021, but also “about what happens on our urban streets, in our small towns, and in homes across our state, each and every week.”

MCC urged lawmakers to go beyond the policies to implement a public awareness campaign so that gun owners are aware that they need to secure their guns safely or face penalties. MCC also called for greater attentiveness to and awareness of those who feel alienated or isolated from society, as well as for meeting the mental health needs of people.

  1. Hearing on Firearms Legislation, Before the House Judiciary Committee. 102nd Michigan Legislature. (2023) (Statement of the University of Michigan Institute for Firearms Injury Prevention.)
  2. Ibid. 1.
  3. Ibid. 1.
  4. Ibid. 1, Statement of Timothy Carey, Law and Policy Advisor, Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions.
  5. Ibid. 1, Statement of Lisa Geller, Director of Public Affairs, Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions.
Michigan Catholic Conference
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(517) 372-3940
510 South Capitol Avenue
Lansing, Michigan 48933
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