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Bills to restrict gun access for some misdemeanors introduced in state Senate

Guns that were purchased by undercover police officers are displayed during a news conference in New York, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010.
Seth Wenig
Democrats say their proposals would also allow the state to enforce similar firearm restrictions that exist at the federal level – which 31 states already do.

People convicted of a misdemeanor involving domestic violence would be banned from possessing guns for at least eight years under bills introduced Thursday in the Michigan Senate.

The eight-year period would start only after fines are paid and any jail sentence and probation or parole is completed.

Senator Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) said the bills are designed to help avert violence escalating in a relationship, especially in situations where an abuser remains part of a household.

“So, the first time that something happens might be more minor, second time might be more serious, third, fourth time might be more serious,” she said. “So, when we’re talking about protecting domestic violence survivors and their abuser is in that home, it’s really, really important that we’re having an appropriate length of time for the firearm to not be in that household.”

Chang chairs the Senate Civil Rights, Judiciary and Public Safety Committee and is a bill sponsor.

“Making sure we’re doing everything that we can to prevent firearm injury, firearm death for domestic violence survivors is our goal,” she said.

Democrats say their proposals would also allow the state to enforce similar firearm restrictions that exist at the federal level – which 31 states already do.

The bills would also piggyback on a new law Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed in May that allows judges to issue court orders to temporarily seize guns from people deemed a risk. Critics say that law violates due process rights of people who haven’t been convicted of a crime. These bills would apply to people who have been convicted or pleaded guilty.

Republicans said they are studying the bills, which had not been shared with the minority party in advance of the introduction.

Jeff Wiggins is the spokesperson for Senate Republicans. He questioned whether the bills are a serious effort.

“There has been no engagement from the other side to even discuss the impacts of these bills and whether they would be effective or not,” he said. “It seems like they just pass bills for the sake of passing bills to say they did something.”

Democrats say they would like to get the bills passed and sent to Whitmer before the end of the year.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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