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Michigan Senate passes domestic gun violence legislation

Walther gun
Public Domain Pictures
Walther gun

The Michigan Senate passed a bill package Wednesday meant to stop domestic abusers from possessing firearms.

The legislation would prevent anyone convicted of a domestic violence-related misdemeanor from owning a gun until eight years after they complete their sentence.

Senator Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) said misdemeanor violent crimes can be precursors to more dangerous behavior.

“Certain criminal activity like destruction of property, stalking, breaking and entering, can turn -- and in too many unfortunate circumstances, did turn -- lethal in domestic violence situations where abusers seek to exert power and control over their victims,” Chang said from the Senate floor.

There are three bills total in the package. One details the terms of the ban and lists out the qualifications for what would be considered a “misdemeanor involving domestic violence.”

There are 11 circumstances that would fall under that category, including nine state laws and two situations accounting for ordinances or laws from other states or the federal government.

Critics of the package say its definition of domestic violence misdemeanors is too broad.

Senator Jim Runestad (R-White Lake) said the legislation should have used federal standards for domestic violence crimes rather than creating a state-specific list.

“I absolutely -- along, I think, with everyone in this chamber -- want to make sure that we don’t have domestic abusers having access to guns. But this bill was not as simple was just described. It goes way beyond accomplishing that goal,” Runestad said during a no-vote explanation.

After session, Chang explained to reporters the decision to enumerate the crimes in the bill.

“We did that intentionally, we did that in consultation with domestic violence groups and law enforcement groups that do this work every day,” Chang said.

Each bill in the package passed by a 22-16 vote, with two Republicans crossing party lines.

There’s a similar package in the House awaiting a vote in that chamber.

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Colin Jackson is the Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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