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Michigan Senate passes gun safety bill package

The bills will require safe firearm storage, background checks on unlicensed gun sales and enact extreme risk protection orders.

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate voted Thursday to pass an 11-bill gun safety package. The bills are now headed to a democratic majority in the Michigan House. 

If the bills head to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's desk, she is expected to sign them into law.

The bills will require safe firearm storage, background checks on unlicensed gun sales and enact extreme risk protection orders, which would allow firearms to be temporarily taken from someone believed to be a danger to themselves or others.

"(These bills) are long overdue and they absolutely will save lives and are common sense," said State Sen. Stephanie Chang. 

These bills come just over a month after the deadly shooting at Michigan State University that left three dead and five others injured.

On Wednesday, state leaders and survivors of gun violence held a rally in Lansing calling for the passage of these bills. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was joined by Attorney General Dana Nessel, Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks, Speaker of the House Joe Tate and former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, a gun control advocate and shooting survivor.

"We are done with only thoughts and prayers," Whitmer said at the rally. "It's time for action!"

Michigan students have also been calling for change after the state saw two fatal mass shootings in less than two years.

“Right now, Michigan has a real opportunity to make meaningful change for generations of students to come and our leaders are heeding that call. Voters have done our jobs, and now, lawmakers must do theirs,” said Saylor Reinders, President of Michigan State University Students Demand Action.

"We are painting the world we want to see for our classmates, community members and the next generations to come so that we do not have to endure the pain and suffering that follows gun violence," said Dylan Morris, Executive Director of No Future Without Today.

The bill package also includes several bills that update and amend criminal codes, change references in sentencing guidelines and updates tax exemptions.

The bill package includes Senate Bills 76-86.

Some Republican Senate leadership was disappointed with the bill's passage. 

"The red flags I see are with this package of bills requiring universal background checks on our hunting guns as if criminals take the time to fill out the application," said State Sen. Michelle Hoitenga. 

“We can all agree that there is a need to address the increasing pattern of violence we see across our communities. I get the passion, the anger, and the overwhelming desire to act, which is why we voted to invest $1 billion in school safety and for county prosecutors to strongly enforce our laws to punish gun violence," Senate Republican Leader Aric Nesbitt said. 

"Our efforts need to be focused on efforts that can actually prevent gun violence. It cannot be doing something just to say we did something. We must work together to do the right things."

State Sen. Jon Bumstead, a Republican who represents North Muskegon, said he wants to do more to prevent mass shootings, but says that can't come at the expense of the Second Amendment.

“While working to enhance public safety in light of public tragedies can be a noble cause, we cannot simply dismiss the rights of law-abiding citizens. The bills passed today do not only seriously threaten Second Amendment liberties but also rights to due process and legal representation guaranteed by our Constitution. That is why I supported several commonsense amendments brought forward by my colleagues to rectify these bills and protect the rights of peaceful Michiganders."

Republicans offered up some amendments and provisions like these that were defeated:  

    • Provide $800 million for school safety grants.
    • Provide $200 million to reduce prosecutor case logs and enforce gun laws.
    • Guarantee legal counsel to anyone at risk of having their guns taken from them.
    • Increase the burden of proof to remove a person’s firearms under so-called red flag laws from the weakest ‘more likely than not’ to the stronger ‘clear and convincing.’
    • Ensure only law enforcement, not obsolete ex-partners or other distant acquaintances, can petition for someone to have their guns removed under so-called red flag laws.

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