Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is touting a bipartisan gun violence bill package she signed into law on Monday as necessary to protect the lives threatened by domestic violence.
The bills ban individuals convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from buying, owning, or transporting firearms for eight years after sentencing.
But the bills also cover many nonviolent felonies and misdemeanors, including breaking into vending machines and parking meters; tampering with electronic tethers; property squatting; polluting; recording in a movie theater; and joyriding.
All told, the bills force gun and ammo bans on more than 100 legal scenarios not involving domestic violence.
According to a Michigan House Fiscal Agency analysis, House Bill 4945 updates the sentencing guidelines to prohibit those convicted of domestic violence from buying or owning a gun or ammunition for eight years.
“The bill also would change the definition of the term felony to expand the list of crimes for which a person may be prohibited from possessing, using, or transferring a firearm or ammunition for three years after completing their sentence (or, in specified cases, for at least five years),” the House analysis states.
Senate Bill 471 renders illegal firearm and ammunition possession by individuals convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence. According to Senate Legislative Analysis, SB 471 “would make violations of laws of other states and of the United States that are punishable by more than one year of imprisonment, but less than four, newly subject to these felony possession prohibitions.”
The list is extensive.
In addition to the items listed above, willfully making false statements while applying for veteran benefits; illegal campaign contributions; violating the Motor Fuels Quality Act; violating the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act by knowingly discharging water and air pollutants or tampering with monitoring devices; possession of non-native animal and plant species may warrant suspension of firearm and ammunition rights; knowingly allowing professional mixed martial arts fighters to compete against amateurs; and embezzlement over $25,000.
“We are committed to doing what we can to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous, convicted criminals,” Col. James F. Grady II, director of the Michigan State Police, said in a statement. “These bills give our troopers a valuable tool in the fight to keep survivors of domestic violence safe.”
Senate Bill 528 defines additional domestic violence offenses that result in disqualification.
According to the Senate Fiscal Analysis: “The bills would prohibit a person convicted of a misdemeanor that involved domestic violence from generally possessing or using a firearm or ammunition in the State until the person completed the terms of imprisonment and probation, paid all fines, and eight years had passed. They would add specific misdemeanors and fines for current crimes, such as breaking and entering and vulnerable adult abuse, if the violator were the victim’s spouse or former spouse, had a dating relationship with the victim, had a child in common with the victim, or was a resident or former resident of the victim’s household. These additional misdemeanors would be considered misdemeanors involving domestic violence.”
Whitmer signed the bills, focusing primarily on domestic violence prevention.
“Keeping Michiganders – especially young women – safe and healthy is a top priority, and these bills will take long overdue steps to protect individuals from abuse,” Whitmer said in a statement. “As a former prosecutor and as governor, I am proud to sign this bipartisan legislation to prevent abusers from accessing firearms. Together, we can make Michigan a safe and welcoming place for everyone.”
Rep. Josh Schriver, R-Oxford, opposed the bills. Prior to the House of Representatives’ vote on the bill package, he noted several specific misdemeanor infractions that would result in individuals losing their right to defend themselves with the firearm for more than eight years, including:
- A girl pushing or shoving her former roommate at a college reunion.
- An ex-girlfriend using her key to get into her boyfriend’s house to get her things without his permission.
- An ex-girlfriend smashing her boyfriend’s pumpkins on his front porch.
- An ex-girlfriend egging her boyfriend’s house and accidentally breaking a window.
- An ex-girlfriend repeatedly calling her ex-boyfriend.
“I don’t recommend doing any of the above — they’re crimes — but they’re petty misdemeanors and shouldn’t cause individuals to become sitting ducks for violent criminals by losing their right to defend themselves for more than eight years,” Schriver said. “If you care about mercy, if you care about justice, if you care about your sacred oath to the Constitution and to honor it to the best of your ability so help you God, you’ll vote no on this package.”