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Let’s Talk About Michigan’s New Gun Sense Bills

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

Content warning: This story discusses sensitive topics including school shootings.

Michigan’s House and Senate have drafted up a new set of bills to address gun violence. Senate Bills (SB) 76-78 propose universal background checks, SB 79-82 propose safe storage laws, and SB 83-86 propose red flag laws. Similarly, House Bills 4138 through 4148 seek to implement the same three requirements: safe storage laws, universal background checks, and red flag laws. These laws will save lives and hold gun owners accountable for being responsible with the weapons they possess. Universal background checks will prevent private sellers from selling guns without conducting a background check. Safe storage laws will help keep guns away from the hands of children and those not properly trained to handle them. Red flag laws will allow law enforcement to confiscate the firearm(s) of an individual who threatens others or shows signs of dangerous behavior. 

The Michigan State House and Senate have been drafting new legislation on gun control ever since Democrats gained the majority in the recent 2022 midterm election. However, the mass shooting that struck Michigan State University’s campus on Feb. 13 has pushed these bills to the top of the to-do list for Michigan lawmakers. On the week of Feb. 27, two weeks after the shooting, both the House and Senate held Judiciary Committee hearings to hear citizens testify on account of these bills in the recent weeks. 

I attended the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Feb. 28 and the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on March 1. At both hearings the room was filled to the brim, requiring an overflow room in order for everyone to hear the testimonies and the Judiciary Committee’s responses. A variety of testimonies were presented, many of which were highly emotional.

At the House Judiciary Committee hearing, many doctors and experts testified that gun violence is a public health crisis. MSU student Sawyer McClure gave an emotional testimony about his best friend, Brian Fraser, one of the victims who was killed during the Feb. 13 shooting. Tears filled my eyes as he implored lawmakers to help prevent any more innocent lives from being taken at the hands of gun violence. Many others testified, including Jonathon Gold, the Michigan Chapter President of Giffords Gun Owners for Safety. His testimony was powerful, as he urged gun owners to support House Bills 4138 through 4148. Gold reiterated the fact that responsible gun owners will not have anything to worry about if the bills pass, and that the bills are proven to dramatically decrease gun violence rates in the state of Michigan. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on March 1 was even more packed, with hundreds of citizens awaiting the testimonials regarding SB 76-78, SB 79-82, and SB 83-86. Lawmakers Senator Rosemary Bayer and General Attorney Dana Nessel testified in support of the bills. “I myself am a gun violence survivor; More than once,” Bayer testified. Mikah Rector Brooks, a student at the University of Michigan and a press worker for March For Our Lives, and Dylan Morris, survivor of the Oxford High School mass shooting and co-founder of No Future Without Today, gave powerful testimonies from the perspective of students who have lived through gun violence. “And to all those in office who refuse to support this common sense legislation, I only ask you to picture your life without your children,” Morris testified. Although there was some pushback on the laws, the hearing consisted of many testimonies that were overwhelmingly supportive of lawmakers voting ‘Yes’ on the proposed bills. 

If both committees have the majority vote ‘Yes’ on the proposed bills, they will be introduced to both the Michigan House and Senate floor. If passed in both chambers, Governor Whitmer will sign the bills into Michigan law. 

Charlotte Plotzke (She/Her/Hers) graduated from Michigan State University in April, 2024 with a B.A. in Communication with an additional major in Music. Plotzke served on the executive board as an assistant editor for MSU's Her Campus chapter during the 2023-2024 school year. Plotzke won second place in the "News" category in the 2023 Her Campus Chapter Awards for her article covering a March For Our Lives rally against gun violence in Lansing, MI, which served to honor the victims of the MSU shooting on February 13th, 2023. On top of writing, Plotzke enjoys going to concerts, cooking, singing, traveling, and watching bad reality TV.