Action Follows U.S. Supreme Court Oral Arguments in United States v. Rahimi
LANSING, Mich. — Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots networks released the following statements today after Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a critical gun violence prevention bill that will prohibit people convicted of domestic violence misdemeanor offenses in Michigan from purchasing or possessing firearms. This is the fifth gun safety bill Governor Whitmer has signed this year.
Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers and Michigan survivors of domestic violence and gun violence have been advocating to protect survivors from abusers armed with guns for nearly a decade. The Michigan bill is signed into law following the Supreme Court’s November 7 oral arguments in United States v. Rahimi, a case seeking to strike down a federal law prohibiting violent abusers from possessing firearms.
“As the Supreme Court weighs whether to uphold common-sense laws to disarm domestic abusers, Governor Whitmer and the Michigan legislature are taking a clear stand: If you have a history of intimate partner violence, you have no business owning a gun,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “A year after Everytown volunteers helped flip the legislature to a gun sense majority, Governor Whitmer and state lawmakers are fulfilling their mandate and passing lifesaving laws.”
“Despite the clear moral imperative of disarming domestic abusers, it took the relentless advocacy of survivors, volunteers, and lawmakers to turn this essential safeguard into law,” said Angela Ferrell-Zabala, the executive director of Moms Demand Action. “Governor Whitmer and Michigan lawmakers refused to stand idle while we wait for the Supreme Court’s decision in the Rahimi case—an outcome that could be a potential death sentence. Instead, they are actively showing up for women and families in Michigan. It’s my hope that other states will emulate Michigan’s example as they continue to champion common-sense gun safety laws.”
“We are unfortunately all too familiar with the deadly consequences that happen when domestic abusers have access to guns – our daughter Maggie’s life was stolen by an intimate partner with access to a gun,” 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. “After nearly a decade of advocacy, we’re honored to see this lifesaving bill that may have saved our daughter’s life, and will save many others, signed into law. We thank Governor Whitmer and Senator Chang for honoring our daughter with action. They are exemplifying what responsible leadership looks like.”
“I advocate for disarming domestic abusers to honor my favorite teacher, Ms. Laura Wallen, and her unborn son, Reid Wallen, who were killed with a gun in a domestic violence act in 2017 — a story sadly that is all too familiar for too many across the country” said Addie Collatz, a volunteer with the Michigan chapter of Students Demand Action. “Domestic violence is an evil epidemic affecting millions — often silently – across the country, and guns significantly accelerate these already dangerous situations. Today, Michigan is standing up for those often silenced, and taking action to stop this deadly cycle of abuse by keeping guns out of the hands of abusers. Everyone deserves a chance to tell their story.”
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. 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. 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 did not have a state-level law until today, Michigan state and local law enforcement have not been able to enforce this prohibition. This means survivors and victims of domestic violence have been left more vulnerable to abusers who continue to possess firearms.
On November 7, the United States heard oral arguments in United States v. Rahimi. 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 guns. If the decision is not reversed by the Supreme Court, the outcome would be extremely dangerous — particularly for domestic violence victims and survivors, children, and the broader community.
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 restrict access to firearms by individuals who are at risk of harming themselves or others. It is an essential tool to keep our loved ones and communities safe.
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. More information about gun violence in Michigan is available here.