LANSING, Mich. (Dec. 9, 2021) — After introducing legislation aimed at strengthening public safety for several months now, the Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention Caucus, chaired by Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D–Beverly Hills) and Rep. Brenda Carter (D-Pontiac), this morning announced the introduction of more bills that might help prevent future gun violence and tragedies.
Senate Bills 785 and 786, introduced by Sens. Bayer and Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield), respectively, and House Bills 5627 and 5628, introduced by Reps. Cynthia A. Johnson (D-Detroit) and Carter, respectively, would prohibit selling or possessing a magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition, beginning on January 1, 2023.
A person who possessed such a magazine before the effective date could keep the magazine if they report possession of the magazine to the local law enforcement agency. Law enforcement officers, members of the armed forces, and individuals working in an armored car would be exempted.
“We all have a role to play when tragedy strikes and, as legislators, it’s our duty to strengthen public safety, and today we’re simply asking that the majority party of both chambers have a change of heart and give these bills a committee hearing,” Sen. Bayer said. “We are not taking away anyone’s guns. We are simply asking responsible gun owners to please speak up, call your legislators, and tell them that you support responsible gun ownership.”
Currently in Michigan, semiautomatic firearms with high-capacity magazines can be purchased without any background check or sale record.
“For years now, we have stood up at press conferences after proactively introducing legislation that might help stem the growing tide of gun violence that continues to impact our families and communities,” Rep. Carter said. “Sadly, the recent tragedy at Oxford High School is another reminder of an epidemic that isn’t going to change until we do something about it. We cannot wait any longer. We must come together and work to pass commonsense gun legislation so that no one else has to experience the pain of burying a child lost to gun violence.”
Under the proposed bills, a person who violates this prohibition would be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by not more than 90 days in jail and/or a maximum fine of $500. A subsequent offense would be a felony, punishable by not more than 2 years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $5,000.
“I joined with a handful of legislators in June of 2016 to establish the Gun Violence Prevention Caucus in the Michigan Legislature to draft and support legislation to reduce gun deaths and injuries. A week later was the Pulse Nightclub shooting,” Sen. Moss said. “From Pulse in 2016 to Oxford High School last week, this legislature has squandered opportunities to take preventative measures to reduce gun violence and ensure our communities are safe. We have to do better.”
Legislators have already introduced several bills this session which provide a platform for commonsense gun regulation, including bills to require safe storage and universal background checks, keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, and prohibit guns from the Capitol and other legislative office buildings.
“My heart goes out to everyone affected by the recent tragedy at Oxford High School — and it’s evident that the time for action is now,” Rep. Johnson said. “We cannot be okay with the status quo and pretend there is nothing we can do. We must do everything we can to ensure our communities are safe and peaceful, so it’s time for the majority to give our commonsense bills fair committee hearings and bring them to the floor for votes.”
In previous mass shootings, the time it takes the shooter to reload their magazine has proven to be a critical time for bystanders to step in to stop the violence. During the massacre in Tuscon, Arizona, which injured former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and in a Thousand Oaks, California mass shooting, heroic bystanders were only able to intervene and stop the shooter when they reloaded magazines.
“The horrific mass shooting at Oxford High School has left a community devastated. It’s important now, more than ever, to pass lifesaving gun laws to prevent these tragedies from happening again,” said Sean Holihan, state legislative director at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “The time it takes a shooter to reload their weapon can be critical in enabling victims to escape and law enforcement or others to intervene. We saw this in Tucson, Arizona in 2011, when the gunman who shot Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and 18 others stopped to reload his weapon and was tackled by a bystander. The bills being introduced today will help reduce gun violence in the state and protect Michigan families. We applaud the legislators who are stepping up in the face of tragedy.”
“We have seen time and again that large-capacity magazines have only one purpose in civilian life: to maximize the number of rounds that a firearm can discharge in as little time as possible. This reality is why these dangerous weapons of war are used in some of the deadliest mass shootings nationwide. That they were used at the tragic shooting at Oxford High School is sadly unsurprising,” Brady President Kris Brown added. “We must work to stop such tragedies from ever occurring again, and that includes regulating these devices. Brady thanks Senator Bayer for championing these important bills and urges the Michigan Legislature to pass them without delay.”
According to the Gun Violence Archive, 2021 has had more K-12 school shootings with at least one injury or death than the three previous years, and that more shootings should be expected as students return to the classroom.
“Firearm injuries are currently the second-leading cause of death in children and teens, and we can prevent these deaths with commonsense gun reform, mental health support, and risk assessment,” said Dr. Sharon Swindell, former president of the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “Polls consistently find that the vast majority of Michiganders want to see the Legislature enact specific forms of gun control, including universal background checks on all weapon sales. We need to take action to protect Michigan youth and keeping guns out of the wrong hands is a place to start.”