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Committee sends domestic violence firearm bills to House floor

 michigan state capitol
Megan Schellong

A state House committee approved legislation Tuesday that would bar people convicted of many types of domestic violence misdemeanors from possessing a firearm for at least eight years after they’ve completed their court-ordered sentences.

The bills were adopted and sent to the House floor by the House Criminal Justice Committee’s Democratic majority while the panel’s Republicans abstained. There was some debate over whether the bills would potentially treat people convicted of lesser offenses more harshly than people convicted of felonies.

Prior to the votes, Robyn Liddell of the Michigan Attorney General’s office and a former assistant county prosecutor testified in favor of the legislation. She said the bills would save lives.

“I have prosecuted hundreds of domestic violence and sexual assault cases and in most of those cases a gun was used to either threaten or intimidate, injure or sometimes even kill,” she said. “I’ve seen firsthand the intersection of gun violence and intimate partner violence.”

Senator Sue Shink (D-Northfield Twp.), sponsored one of the bills. Her Senate bill is similar to House bills also before the committee. Shink told the committee the bills are designed to only prohibit gun possession by people convicted of violent offenses, and noted there was bipartisan support in the Senate.

“The goal is really to ensure that only those who commit domestic violence face the firearm prohibition and to keep firearms away from people who are very likely to be a danger to others,” she said. “Lawful gun owners will keep their firearms.”

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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