PASSED: Historic New Protections for Domestic Violence Survivors Ready for Governor Whitmer’s Signature

New Protections for Domestic Violence Survivors Ready for Governor Whitmer’s Signature.

Lansing – Last night, the Michigan House of Representatives passed SB 471 (Sen. Chang, D-Detroit), SB 528 (Sen. Shink, D-Northfield Twp.) and HB 4945 (Rep. O’Neal, D-Saginaw) in a bipartisan vote. The proposals are now ready to head to Governor Whitmer’s desk for her signature. The vote was 58-52, with all Democrats joined by Republican representatives Mark Tisdel and Tom Kuhn.

The new laws will bring Michigan into line with 33 other states and the federal government by preventing all those convicted of domestic violence charges from purchasing or possessing firearms. Under the new statute, the prohibition will remain in place for eight years after the completion of the offender’s sentence.

“This is a huge victory for domestic violence survivors,” said Kelly Dillaha, Michigan Director of the women’s advocacy organization Red, Wine & Blue, “As a child, I lived through the traumatic experience of domestic violence with a gun. I’m so relieved and proud that fewer little girls will have to live through that same nightmare. Today, we’re giving domestic violence survivors the hope and safety they deserve.”

The need for these laws is urgent: 70 Michigan women and children are killed by an armed abuser each year. Domestic violence is five times more likely to turn deadly when there is a firearm in the home. Two thirds of mass shootings are related to domestic violence. According to the Brady Campaign, domestic violence murder has increased by 22% in the past 5 years.

“Our leaders in Lansing are finally listening to domestic violence survivors,” said Heath Lowry, Policy Specialist with the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, “and as a result, we’re going to save hundreds of lives. Survivors are getting back some of the hope that’s been stolen from them. It’s a tremendous victory.”

Similar bills had been introduced in previous sessions, but were never given a vote

“Enormous credit is due to Senator Stephanie Chang and Representative Amos O’Neal,” said Ryan Bates, Executive Director of EGVMI, “They championed these bills for years, and provided the leadership necessary to make them law. We all owe them a debt of gratitude for their commitment and perseverance.”

The passage of the legislation will cap off a historic year, where the Michigan legislature enacted the first gun safety legislation in 40 years, including safe storage, universal background checks, and red flag laws.

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