Michigan's governor on Nov. 20 signed bills that bars people convicted of certain misdemeanors from owning guns for nearly a decade.
The bills prohibit people convicted of a misdemeanor involving domestic violence from owning, possessing, and selling firearms until eight years after they complete a prison sentence and probation and all fines.
"They will keep firearms out of the hands of people likely to be a danger to others, individuals convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence," state Sen. Stephanie Chang, a Democrat who sponsored one of the bills, said before Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed them.
Ms. Whitmer, another Democrat and a former prosecutor, said that the bills would "protect survivors of domestic violence, their families, and ... make our communities safer."
"These bills are based on a simple idea: If you have been found guilty in court, for violently assaulting your partner, you should not be able to access a deadly weapon, one you could use to further threaten, harm or kill them. It's just common sense," she added.
Lawmakers pointed to how some women are killed by their current or former partner, according to federal data.
The domestic violence misdemeanors include assault and battery, vulnerable adult abuse, and breaking and entering.
The victim must fall into a certain category, such as having had a dating relationship with the convict or having had a child with the convict.
The bills partially enshrine federal law that bars domestic violence convicts from owning guns, but also include nonviolent misdemeanors that are not covered by federal law.
"As the Supreme Court weighs whether to uphold common-sense laws to disarm domestic abusers, Governor Whitmer and the Michigan legislature are taking a clear stand: If you have a history of intimate partner violence, you have no business owning a gun," John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, which advocates for gun control laws, said in a statement.
Critics said the courts would take issue with adding nonviolent misdemeanors to the list of convictions that cause one to be unable to have a firearm.
"Federal courts are already striking down non-violent felon gun bans, what do you think they’ll do with a non-violent misdemeanor gun ban?" Great Lakes Gun Rights, which has been rallying members against the bills, said in a statement.
The bills were passed "under the guise of fighting domestic violence and just looking to 'mirror' federal law, but nothing could be farther from the truth," the group said.
Martha and Rick Omilian, whose daughter was shot dead by an ex-boyfriend in 1999, were among those who pushed legislators to approve the bills.
The laws "will save someone’s life and give them the chance to live,” Mr. Omilian said at the bill signing ceremony. “A full meaningful life, a chance Maggie did not get.”
Democrats in Michigan previously passed a bill that enables courts to remove a person's right to own a gun if they're judged to be a risk to themselves or others. Ms. Whitmer signed that bill in May.
That law enables people such as family members, police, and former partners to ask a judge to strip a person of their right to own guns if the judge finds the individual poses an immediate threat to themselves or others. The judge must decide within a certain period of time, and the ownership prohibition usually lasts for one year. Some sheriffs publicly refused to enforce that law, alleging it was unconstitutional.
More DetailsPeople convicted of the additional misdemeanors will be barred from gun ownership for three to five years, depending on the count, under the new laws.
The bills were largely passed by Democrats, who control both legislative chambers in addition to the governor's mansion. Republicans largely voted against the measures.
Democrats flipped control of the state House of Representatives and the state Senate in the 2022 elections.
Violators of the bills will face a felony charge. Violations are punishable by up to five years in prison, and a fine of $5,000.
The bills take effect in February 2024.
The bills could have a negative fiscal impact on the state and local governments because they may result in additional people being jailed or placed on probation, according to analyses from the state legislature.
The average cost to the state for probation supervision, for instance, is $4,200 per person per year, while the average annual cost to house a prisoner in a state facility is $45,700.