LANSING, Mich., March 22, 2023 — Continuing their commitment to protecting Michiganders — including children — from senseless acts of gun violence, the Michigan House of Representatives passed legislation today to require the safe storage of firearms.
House Bills 4144 and 4139 would require unattended firearms to be safely stored if accessible by a minor and update the sentencing guidelines, respectively, while House Bills 4141 and 4140 would remove sales and use taxes from firearm safety device purchases, such as safes, lock boxes, and trigger and barrel locks, through the end of 2024.
“The secure storage of firearms is a crucial step to help protect children by preventing unauthorized access to guns”, said state Rep. Sharon MacDonnell (D-Troy), sponsor of HB 4139. “Enacting secure storage legislation now could help to prevent up to one-third of youth suicides and unintentional manslaughter in children and youths. This doesn’t just represent a number — this represents real people. Real lives that will be saved by passing these bills.”
Unsecured firearms fuel gun violence outside the home. In incidents of gun violence on school grounds, 75% of shooters under the age of 18 obtained their guns from their own home, a relative’s home or from friends, according to data collected by gun violence prevention group Everytown.
“It’s our responsibility to do everything we can to keep our children safe from gun violence,” added state Rep. Felicia Brabec (D-Pittsfield Township), sponsor of HB 4144. “Owning a gun is both a right and a responsibility. Ensuring that these deadly weapons are securely stored will help stop the tragic consequences that so often come when children gain access to guns.”
Firearms are the leading cause of death for children age 1-17 in the U.S., with American children three times more likely to be shot and killed than die by drowning, yet safety regulations for pools are more restrictive than those for guns. Michigan law requires private pool owners to use fences or locked gates around pools to prevent drownings or other accidents, yet does not have a law requiring firearms to be stored securely.
“I am proud to have passed this legislation through the House today with the support of a number of my colleagues from across the aisle,” state Rep. Karen Whitsett (D-Detroit), sponsor of HB 4140, said. “This commonsense legislation makes a world of difference when it comes to preventing gun violence in our communities, and I look forward to seeing the bill progress through the Senate as it moves to the governor’s desk.”
Twenty-four states have already passed firearm storage laws known as child access prevention (CAP) laws, which state that if a minor accesses a firearm, the person who failed to adequately secure the firearm is liable. Additionally, research conducted by Everytown reveals that states with CAP laws saw an 8% decrease in overall suicide rates, and an 11% decrease in firearm suicide rates, among adolescents aged 14 to 17.
The bills now head to the Senate for consideration and a vote.