Bills aim to ban convicted domestic abusers from owning guns

Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 6:30 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - “So I stand here today because I survived. It is important that we come together to mourn, to grieve, and to remember. But I say to you that that is just not enough.” said Tanesha Ash-Shakoor, the CEO and Founder of Voices of Color and a domestic violence survivor.

On Thursday, 70 pairs of empty shoes were on the state capitol steps. They represent the 70 Michigan women and children killed yearly by domestic abusers with guns.

Survivors of domestic violence spoke at the demonstration Thursday in support of gun control legislation. The bills would ban anyone convicted of domestic violence from having a gun.

Taking steps forward for those who can’t, Ash-Shakoor was not her abuser’s first victim. She believes Senate bills 471 and 472 would have made it easier for her to leave if they were law at the time of her abuse.

“Even though he did not use that gun on me, it was the fact that he was still in possession and threatened. I was threatened with it several times,” said Ash-Shakoor.

She says when victims attempt to leave, the threat of violence and death increases by 75%. That’s why she, among others, advocated for the bills Thursday morning that would take guns away from those convicted of domestic violence.

“I understand these things on a practical level, not just in theory. The very first murder I worked on, and the very last murder I worked on, were cases in which the person who perpetrated those homicides had previous incidents of violence in the home,” said Kristina Droste, a Michigan State Trooper.

At today’s senate committee hearing, those opposed to the bills said they could support them, but only with a few changes first.

“Making sure that we get things right, that we’re not violating constitutional rights, but we’re also not writing something that really is gonna do a lot of harm,” said Sen. Jim Runestad, a Republican from White Lake.

Tom Lambert, legislative director for Michigan Open Carry, testified that the bills need a more narrow focus to stay in line with federal law and Supreme Court rulings.

“I’ll end my testimony with suggesting, as this continues to get worked on, a focus on a restoration of rights. There’s some clarity that could happen there,” said Lambert.

31 other states currently have similar laws to protect victims of abuse, hoping to stand up for those who can’t.

If the committee votes to pass the bills, they’ll go to the Senate floor for another vote. There are bills in the house with similar goals, HB 4945 & 4946.

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