Gov. Whitmer Signs Commonsense Gun Violence Prevention Bills

The bills were signed Thursday morning and will establish universal background checks and safe storage requirements.
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Gov. Whitmer signed commonsense gun legislation on Thursday, April 13. // Photograph courtesy of the State of Michigan and the Office of Gretchen Whitmer

On Thursday morning, after work with Michigan Legislature, community groups, law enforcement, students and parents, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation she proposed at her State of the State in January that will require safe storage of all firearms and establish background checks on gun sales in the state.

The move comes exactly two months to the day following the shooting at Michigan State University and nearly a year and a half after the shooting at Oxford High School.

“Today, we are turning our pain into purpose and honoring those we have lost with commonsense gun violence prevention legislation supported by a majority of Michiganders,” Gov. Whitmer said in a press release. “Universal background checks and safe storage are long-overdue steps we are proud to take today that will save lives by keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and domestic abusers and children in the home.”

The bills that were signed were Senate Bills 79, 80, 81 and 82, and House Bills 4138 and 4142.

Senate Bill 79, which was sponsored by Senator Rosemary Bayer, aims to protect children by requiring firearm owners to keep their firearms unloaded and locked with a locking device or in a lock box if it’s in the presence of a minor.

It also requires the Department of Health and Human Service to provide the public and federally licensed firearms dealers with lethal means counseling literature, inform the public of penalties and updates the “wording of notice” to require licensed firearms dealers to be on the premises where firearms are sold.

“Finally, there is a tiny stitch to begin healing my heart, broken from the Oxford school shootings, the MSU school shootings, and every injury or death from accidental shootings of or by children,” Sen. Bayer said in a press release. “Finally, we are doing our job, passing legislation, taking our first steps to manage this out-of-control gun violence situation in Michigan.”

Senate Bill 80, which was, in her first public act, sponsored by state Senator Kristen McDonald Rivet, updates the state’s criminal code for safe storage and child access protection.

Senate Bills 81 and 82, which were sponsored by Senators Jeff Irwin and Kevin Hertel, will lower the price of safety devices for firearms.

“Firearm fatalities are currently the leading cause of death for young people in our nation,” Sen. Hertel said in a press release. “As a father, I am proud of the steps our state is taking today to change that and build a safer future for all.”

Meanwhile, over in the State House, Bills 4138 and 4142, which were sponsored by Representatives Jaime Churches and Brenda Carter, closes loopholes in the law and expands universal background checks to include all firearms.

A survey published in March by WDIV and the Detroit News shows that a majority of Michiganders support commonsense gun legislation with 87.7% of voters in support of background checks for firearm purchases, and nearly 80% in support of safe storage laws. Around 67% of Michiganders believe that such legislation will make the state safer.

With that in mind, Gov. Whitmer and Lieutenant Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II say they will continue working with the community to help prevent gun violence in the state.

“Every gun death is preventable, yet so many Michiganders, including me, have lost people they love to the senseless tragedy of gun violence,” Lieutenant Gov. Gilchrist II said in a press release. “Today, we are taking action on commonsense reforms supported by a majority of Michiganders. Universal background checks and safe storage laws will save lives and help keep families and kids safe at home, in the streets, at school, and at work.”

“These bills,” he continued “build on our ongoing investments in public safety and Operation Safe Neighborhoods to create safer communities where everyone can thrive. Governor Whitmer and I are committed to building on this progress and working with anyone to prevent gun violence.”

Watch the full video of Gov. Whitmer’s address at ClickOnDetroit.com, and find even more community news in metro Detroit at HourDetroit.com.