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VICTORY FOR GUN SAFETY: Ahead of Rahimi Oral Arguments, Michigan House Lawmakers Pass Legislation To Help Keep Guns Out of the Hands of Domestic Abusers

November 1, 2023

Action Comes Ahead of U.S. Supreme Court Oral Arguments in United States v. Rahimi on November 7

LANSING, Mich. – Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots networks released the following statements applauding the Michigan legislature for passing a critical gun violence prevention bill aimed at prohibiting domestic abusers from possessing firearms. Senate Bills 471/472 and House Bills 4945/4946 would prohibit people convicted of domestic violence misdemeanor offenses in Michigan from purchasing or possessing firearms. Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers and Michigan survivors of domestic violence have been advocating to protect survivors from abusers armed with guns for nearly a decade. The Michigan bill passes just one week before the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in United States v. Rahimi, a case seeking to strike down a federal law prohibiting violent abusers from possessing firearms. The bill now heads to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s desk to be signed into law.

“In a country where access to a firearm makes it five times more likely an abuser will kill his female victim, this legislation is a necessary step towards preventing deadly gun violence,” said Angela Ferrell-Zabala, executive director of Moms Demand Action. “With oral arguments in Rahimi just days away, Michigan gun sense leaders are exemplifying how we can meaningfully protect domestic violence victims ahead of a potential death sentence from the Supreme Court. We applaud the state legislature and our grassroots army for getting this bill across the finish line, and urge other lawmakers to join Michigan in their steadfast commitment to keeping our communities safe.”

“Ahead of the hugely consequential and potentially dangerous ruling in Rahimi, Michigan lawmakers are standing up for victims and survivors of domestic violence by keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers,” said Monisha Henley, senior vice president of government affairs at Everytown for Gun Safety. “Gun violence and domestic abuse are deeply interconnected, and their impacts are felt far beyond just victims and their families. Michigan lawmakers are yet again cementing their role as leaders in gun violence prevention, passing their fourth critical gun safety bill just this year. Michigan is a perfect example of the power and possibility of a state led by gun sense leaders. A huge thank you to Senator Chang and Representative O’Neal for taking a decisive stand to protect survivors and victims of domestic violence in Michigan.”

“When domestic abusers have access to guns, the effects can be and often are deadly – sadly our family knows this all too well. 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, Michigan lawmakers are passing legislation that may have saved our daughter’s life, and will save many others, one life at a time”

“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,” said Addie Collatz, a volunteer with Students Demand Action Michigan. “I think many people have preconceived notions of what domestic violence may look like — the truth is domestic abuse can go easily unnoticed, but can have a deep impact on someone’s life and the community around them. We thank Michigan lawmakers for taking action to stop this deadly cycle of abuse and passing critical legislation to keep 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 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. 

Next Tuesday, on November 7th, the United States will hear 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 a gun. 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 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. Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers and Michigan survivors have been advocating for legislation to disarm domestic abusers for nearly a decade. 

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.

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