The 11-bill gun safety package reintroduced by Michigan democrats in the aftermath of the Michigan State University school shooting in February carries potential changes for gun-owning parents.
Some of the bills were passed last week and are awaiting the governor’s signature. They dictate how firearms can be stored in homes shared with children; introduce a range of penalties for adults when a minor accesses firearms; and require new notices posted at places where firearms are sold. The bills also make it less expensive to buy firearm safety devices.
Bills 79-82 are expected to be signed into law, while some of the more hotly debated bills, like the “red flag law,” which would allow for the removal of firearms from an individual showcasing alarming behavior by using an extreme risk protection order, have yet to pass both the senate and house.
The red flag law, as well as stricter background checks and licensing mandates (particularly when a gun is passed from different family members), have produced heated debate down party lines.
Supporters of the changes in legislation point to recent shootings by minors such as Ethan Crumbley, who used a firearm purchased for him by his parents in the 2021 Oxford High School attack, as evidence for the need for stricter and safer gun storage in the state.
Prosecutors have leveled involuntary manslaughter charges against Crumbley’s parents, an action not normally taken in mass shootings involving a minor. The effect of these new bills could make legal ramifications more common for parents of minors who commit shootings.
The 2023 Michigan State University shooting also reignited calls for stricter gun legislation, after eight students were shot, resulting in three deaths.
Caregivers who own guns should learn more about what changes may be needed to comply with the new laws. Read on for more information.
Changes to firearm storage
Senate Bill 79 requires parents who store firearms in the same home as children to keep all firearms in a locked box or container, keep firearms unloaded and locked with a locking device and, if entering someone else’s home, gun owners must store or lock the firearm in their vehicle.
Penalties for failing to secure firearms
Senate Bill 79 also introduces penalties for failing to properly secure a firearm from a minor. If a minor were to use a gun improperly, penalties for the gun’s owner range based on the severity of the outcome of the minor’s misuse.
If a child possesses a firearm in the presence of another person in a careless manner, the gun owner could face up to 93 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
If the minor injures another person with the firearm, the gun owner could face a felony punishable by five years of jail time and fine of up to $5,000.
If a minor kills someone with the weapon, the individual who owns the gun could face a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to 15 years and a fine of up to $7,500.
Some exceptions to these rules apply, including a minor lawfully acting in self-defense.
New required signs for firearms dealers
The same bill dictates that federally licensed firearms dealers must give buyers a free pamphlet with safety information on the lawful storage of firearms and must post signs on entrances, exits and all points of sale stating: “You may be criminally and civilly liable for any harm caused by a person less than 18 years of age who lawfully gains unsupervised access to your firearm if unlawfully stored.”
Removing taxes from safety devices for guns
Senate Bills 81 and 82 make the sale of firearm safety devices tax free starting 90 days after the bill goes into effect and through 2024.
Devices that would fall under this category include gun safes, gun cases and lockboxes. Glass front cases or other cabinets designed to display firearms are not included.
Passing down firearms to family members
If parents want to pass down a firearm to their children or other family members, that transition would need to be registered (with some exemptions), if bills 76-78 are made into law. The package requires a person who has inherited a firearm to obtain a license no later than 30 days after gaining possession.
Red flag laws
If senate bills 83-86 are made into law, family members of an individual showcasing alarming behavior may petition the court to take away firearms if he or she “poses a significant risk of self-injury or injury to others by possessing a firearm.”
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