Governor Whitmer signs red flag gun law Monday; here's what it means

Posted at 8:05 AM, May 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-22 17:19:36-04

(WXYZ) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed bills Monday that will enact red flag gun laws in the state, the latest in a series of bills aimed at addressing gun violence.

Whitmer attended the signing ceremony alongside community leaders, gun violence survivors, gun violence prevention advocates and more.

The signing comes about a month after the legislature passed the bill that will establish extreme risk protection orders – also known as "red flag" laws – which allow courts to remove guns from those believed to be a danger to others or themselves.

What's in the bill?

Under the bill, a court can issue an extreme risk protection order "if the court determines by the preponderance of the evidence that the respondent can reasonably be expected within the near future to intentionally or unintentionally seriously physically injured himself, herself, or another individual by possessing a firearm, and has engaged in an act or acts or made significant threats that are substantially supportive of this expectation."

The courts can also consider several other factors including a history of violence, mental illness, criminal history, use of drugs or alcohol and more.

The bill said that the person who is under the order will have two chances during the year to show they are not a threat and potentially get their weapons back.

According to the bill, any of the following people may file a request for an extreme protection order to be issued:

  • The spouse of the defendant
  • A former spouse of the defendant
  • Someone who has a child in common with the defendant
  • Someone who is dating or has dated the defendant
  • Someone who lives or has lived in the same house
  • A family member
  • A law enforcement officer
  • A mental health professional

Michigan's red flag gun law by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd

However, a report from the Associated Press earlier this month said over half of Michigan's 83 counties have passed resolutions that declared the counties are Second Amendment "sanctuaries." Some county sheriffs said they believe the law is unconstitutional and would have a problem enforcing it.

Local officials "do have discretion as to which laws they will enforce with the resources of their office," Attorney General Dana Nessel told the AP.

Other gun laws in Michigan

In April, Whitmer signed a different series of gun reform bills that she called common-sense measures. Those bills mandate background checks and registrations for all firearms purchased in the state, and requires gun owners to keep firearms and ammo locked up whenever minors are around.

The gun reform comes after two mass shootings in the state since 2021. In November 2021, a teenager opened fire at Oxford High School, killing four students and injuring seven other people. In February 2023, another gunman opened fire on the campus of Michigan State University, killing three people and injuring five others.