Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation Thursday aimed at preventing gun violence in Michigan by expanding background checks and establishing penalties for those who fail to keep firearms out of the hands of children. She signed the bills on Michigan State University's campus just two months after a shooting at the school left three dead and five injured. "Today we're taking common sense gun action to reduce violence and save lives," Whitmer said. "Gun violence is a scourge that is unique to this country and that's why we're taking action." Whitmer repeated her call for lawmakers to create a so-called "red flag law" her way, according to USA Today. Democrats in the state House and Senate have passed bills to allow courts to take firearms away temporarily from those deemed dangerous. The two chambers must work out small differences before the bills can go to Whitmer. While federal law requires background checks for gun sales by licensed dealers, Michigan law only requires first obtaining a license for purchasing pistols from private sellers. The legislation signed by Whitmer would expand the requirement to all firearm purchases.
The new law on gun storage requires gun owners to store their firearms in a locked container or use a locking device if they have a child in the house or take their gun somewhere where a child couldn't gain access to it. If children injure themselves or someone else with an unlocked firearm, the gun owner would be guilty of a felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment and/or a $5,000 fine. If the minor kills themselves or someone else, the individual who failed to secure or lock their firearm would be guilty of a felony punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment and/or a $10,000 fine. "No longer do we only have our thoughts and prayers. We have these tools and we're taking action," said Kalamazoo County Sheriff Rick Fuller at the bill-signing ceremony. The bills passed along a party-line vote in the state Senate but received the support of five GOP representatives in the House, including House Minority Leader Matt Hall. Democrats introduced similar safe storage requirement bills last legislative session that languished in the GOP-controlled Legislature. Democrats shepherding the gun safety measures called their actions a starting point and promised more proposals to curb gun violence.