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State of Michigan gun reform package of 11 legislations advances from committee to full senate

Several tense exchanges played out during Thursday's hearing in Lansing, which included more than two hours of additional testimony.

LANSING, Mich. — A Michigan Senate committee voted to advance a raft of proposed gun safety measures on to the full senate for a vote in the coming days.

The 5-2 vote, which occurred during a packed Thursday morning hearing at the Binsfeld Office Building across the street from the state capitol, broke, as anticipated, along party lines.

It marked the second session held by the Senate Committee on Civil Rights, Judiciary and Public Safety in as many weeks following a March 2 hearing that featured testimony from mass shooting survivors and victims of gun violence.

The move followed Wednesday's historic victory for house democrats, who voted to expand the state's background check protocols, a component of its own, overarching gun reform package. 

Thursday's session featured a host of community advocates, national and international trade organizations, in addition to law enforcement officials, including Wayne County Prosecutor Kim Worthy and Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson. 

The package hammered out by its membership comprises some 11 individual pieces of legislation, which, together, would represent a sweeping overhaul of existing state gun laws if adopted. 

Passage of Senate Bills 76-86 would entail:

  • Expanded background checks
  • Safe storage requirements
  • Extreme risk law
  • Other reforms

Speakers, of which there were well over a dozen, frequently fought the clock during the more than two-hour session following a change which restricted comments to a maximum duration of three minutes. 

The various amendments and substitutions applied to the original 11-bill package prior to the opening of the debate Thursday appeared to sway several speakers who indicated they initially disapproved of numerous provisions.

Committee members said they'd taken public feedback into account in drafting and later adapting the bills:

"We are continuing conversations, want to continue receiving more feedback, want to continue conversations to make sure that the bills that we pass in the Senate are the strongest and are most able to be implemented in the way that we intend," Committee Chair Senator Stephanie Chang (D) related. "[We] just want folks to know that the substitutes we adopt today, we fully expect that there will be additional changes and we will continue to improve the bill."

While opponents leveled frequent criticisms of the effort's constitutionality, citing the second amendment and others, possibly the most significant magnet for controversy Thursday was Senate Bill 83.

The bill establishes an 'extreme risk law,' frequently referred to as a 'red flag law,' to temporarily secure weapons under specific circumstances via a court order. Critics repeatedly suggested its provisions were too vague and prone to possible abuse.

Supporters noted that in states where legislatures have adopted similar laws, certain gun-related crimes and incidents had seen marked declines. 

The vote to advance the bills out of committee split along party lines with only Republicans Johnson and Runestad casting no votes.

The package now moves to the full senate for consideration. 

For more information regarding an individual bill, select the appropriate link below:

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