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Extreme Risk Protection Orders, Safe Storage, Red Flag pass Michigan Senate

Michigan Senate Chamber/Courtesy Photo

Democrats unsuccessfully tried to pass similar legislation after a mass shooting at Oxford High School in 2021

The Michigan Senate Thursday passed bills to create a new Extreme Risk Protection Order Act to keep guns from people deemed a threat to themselves or others.

The policies are also known as “red flag” laws. They're part of a gun-related package lawmakers brought up last month following a deadly mass shooting at Michigan State University.

Democrats unsuccessfully tried to pass similar legislation after a mass shooting at Oxford High School in 2021.

Senator Rosemary Bayer (D-West Bloomfield) said the legislation would make Michigan safer. During a floor speech, she noted how other countries don’t deal with gun violence on the same scale the U.S. does.

"We do not adequately take care of the people in our state and in our country. We have the opportunity to finally make a change here with things that are proven to work in the United States with other states like us,” Bayer said.

In addition to the extreme risk protection orders, the Senate approved legislation to require safe storage and suspend sales and use tax collection on gun safety devices. Bills to require universal background checks on all gun sales also made it out of the chamber Thursday.

Throughout the committee process, researchers testified about the effectiveness of the policies.

But Republican opponents to the legislation brought up Second Amendment concerns and argued that the protection orders would violate peoples’ constitutional right to due process.

“After recent tragedies at MSU and Oxford High School, I understand the desire to do something. But passing more laws just to say you did something is terrible policy,” Sen. Joe Bellino (R-Monroe) said Thursday.

At multiple points, Republicans tried to amend the legislation to tie in funding for school safety measures.

“We must give schools the resources they need to protect their students, teachers, and staff who are deeply affected by this tragedy,” Sen. Ruth Johnson (R-Holly) said in support of one of her own amendments.

Each attempt failed. Democrats dismissed them, saying lawmakers have already funded and will continue to invest in school safety.

Senator Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) accused Republicans of using amendments to distract from the issues at hand, despite already being aware of plans to tie safety spending into the upcoming budget process.

“We will work on school security at both levels, K-12 and higher education, through the budget as well as through the supplemental process,” Singh said. “I appreciate the theatrics, but the false outrage? Don’t do that. We will be doing this, and you know we will be doing this.”

One of the bills, however, did go through a change before its final passage to undo a change made in committee.

The committee version of the safe storage legislation would have taken away immunity for gunmakers. It was something Republicans criticized as threatening to bankrupt any gun manufacturer in the state.

“I think there was some good intention of putting some probably important things through but it kind of needs to stand alone and it needed a little more effort,” Bayer said.

As for the other side of the Legislature, the Michigan House has already passed its own version of the background check bills but is holding the others behind for further work.

Bayer said she’s not yet sure which versions of the legislation will make it to the governor.

The House could take up the Senate bills as soon as next week.

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