LANSING, Mich., March 14, 2022 – State Reps. Kyra Bolden (D-Southfield) and Luke Meerman (R-Coopersville) introduced House Bills 5908 and 5099. This bipartisan package would reform the mandatory two-year consecutive sentences for a first conviction on a felony firearm charge.
“The 1976 felony firearm law has disproportionately affected the Black community, with over 80% of people with felony firearm sentences identifying as Black,” said state Rep. Bolden. “It is time to restore judicial discretion in our criminal justice system and allow judges to consider the relevant facts before them, rather than tie their hands through mandatory minimums.”
“Mandatory sentencing takes sentencing decisions out of the hands of judges, depriving them of the ability to impose fair and proportionate sentences based on the facts of the case,” said Safe & Just Michigan Executive Director John S. Cooper. “Our October 2020 report starkly illustrates the consequences of this choice. Judicial oversight of felony firearm charges is desperately needed.”
The bipartisan legislation would provide a more in-depth definition for “use” of a firearm during the commission of a felony. “Use,” being defined as pulling the trigger, brandishing the weapon or pointing the weapon at another person. Under the proposed changes, the offense would still be punishable by a 2-year mandatory consecutive sentence. For those who simply possess but do not use a firearm and are charged with a separate felony, the proposed legislation allows judges to sentence someone for up to two additional years for a first offense.
House Bills 5908 and 5909 received support from a bipartisan group of almost 20 legislators, and a coalition of organizations and officials from across the state including Safe and Just Michigan, Americans for Prosperity, Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon, and Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit.