Michigan took another step in its trek toward gun reform with the signing of red flag laws by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Red flag laws, or extreme risk protection orders, allow family, friends or law enforcement to petition the court to take weapons away from people who are shown to be a threat to themselves or others. It’s a law that possibly could have been used by the family of the Michigan State University shooter.
This year, as part of their priorities for gun reform in Michigan, Democrats have already passed Safe Storage laws and universal background checks. They had a third leg that had been held up in the legislature, but finally got through and signed Monday.
“These are the things that we ran on, that we said we were going to do,” said Gov. Whitmer. “That were overwhelmingly supported by Michiganders.”
Whitmer made it official Monday establishing red flag laws in Michigan. The most recent, but probably not final, gun reform step in the state.
“After decades of not doing anything, this legislature is taking action,” said Whitmer. “And they are doing what the voters expect them to do.”
The law will allow family and friends to seek a court order to remove guns from a dangerous person, not only those who could threaten others but themselves.
“Six out of every 10 gun deaths in the United States, are suicide,” said Sen. Mallory McMorrow, Democrat from Royal Oak and sponsor of the main bill. “Those who attempt suicide by firearm, 90% are successful.”
Red flag laws were the most debated gun reform option this year. Where universal background checks and safe storage laws passed quite smoothly, opponents pushed back on these extreme risk protection orders, saying they could be abused by somebody with an ax to grind.
“It just has never played out in any other state, where this has been in effect. You have to go to a court to provide evidence that somebody is a danger to themselves or others and then the court can decide not to issue an order,” said McMorrow. “So this isn’t something where you just go talk about your neighbor, or your ex, and get their guns taken away. It’s not the situation at all.”
Polls have shown more than 70% of Michiganders support this move. Red flags laws have been accepted in states like Indiana, Virginia and Florida. But they still fell along party lines in Lansing, passing by a very narrow margin.
“In 2019, Donald Trump came out in support of red flag legislation so to see the Republican Party move so far away from common sense, and so far away from the majority of people, is not an indicator of the issue itself,” said McMorrow. “It’s how disconnected the current GOP is from voters.”
When asked what else needs to be done on the gun reform side and the unintended consequences, Whitmer said these were the first three steps and the impact and needed changes are yet to be seen.
“I think there will be a lot of twists and turns in the future and we have to be nimble,” said Whitmer. “We have to stay focused on the facts, and we have to always do our best to keep people safe.”