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Michigan House committee sends extreme risk order bill to floor

Guns for sale at a gun show in Naples, Fla.
Spencer Platt
Guns for sale at a gun show in Naples, Fla.

The state House Judiciary Committee approved “red flag” legislationWednesday that would allow authorities to seize firearms from someone deemed by a judge to pose an imminent risk.

The bills were sent to the House floor almost entirely along party-line votes. Republicans say they have concerns about due process rights when taking away someone’s guns based solely on an accusation or a suspicion.

But Representative Kelly Breen (D-Novi), a bill sponsor who also chairs the judiciary committee, said the legislation is designed strictly to avert crisis situations.

“Guns are the quickest and most efficient way to kill,” she said. “Their proliferation and easy access make them the target and means for homicides and suicides.”

Republicans say there are other legal avenues to remove guns from potentially dangerous people.

Representative Mike Harris (R-Waterford Twp.) is a former police officer. The Republican lawmaker says he will vote “no” when the bills come up for votes on the House floor.

“It’s still a due process issue,” he said. “So, to me, when people have accusations made against them, they should be able to face their accuser, explain their circumstances to the judge and then a decision be made.”

The bills' supporters say that can take too long. Also, the sponsors said there are protections built into the bills, including the possibility of criminal charges for making false claims to justify an emergency gun seizure order.

The legislation would also require data collection regarding how authorities use risk protection orders and the effects on minority populations.

The bills are expected to come up for floor votes next week. Other gun safety bills have already been adopted and sent to Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who is expected to sign them Thursday. Those bills include firearm storage requirementsand universal background checksfor gun purchases.

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Rick Pluta is the managing editor for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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