Michigan Becomes 20th State to Enact Red Flag Gun Laws

May 23, 2023

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) on Monday signed so-called “red flag” gun legislation into law. 

Red flag laws work like this: if a person exhibits behavior suggesting that they might be a threat to themselves or others, such as expressions of suicide or violence, then a family member, school official, or police officer can secure a court order permitting police to seize their weapons and prohibit them from purchasing any during the length of the order.

Including Michigan, there are now 20 states that have red flag laws in effect. Another 13 states have red flag proposals on the books. 

“Today, Michigan joins the ranks of other states that have enacted Extreme Risk Protection Orders,” Whitmer tweeted on Monday. “The time for only thoughts and prayers is over. We know that we cannot keep living like this. Action is needed to keep us safe.”

The governor’s tweet was accompanied by a photo of the signing. Former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) stood behind the governor during the event. Giffords (in a red blazer in the photo) suffered a brain injury during a mass shooting in her congressional district in Tucson in 2011. She  was one of 13 people wounded by the gunman. Six others were killed, including a 9-year-old girl.

Michigan’s red flag law comes just over a month after Whitmer signed two other new gun reform laws, which included mandatory state-wide background checks ahead of purchases, and a requirement that gun owners safely store all firearms and ammunition when around minors.

That April signing took place on the campus of Michigan State University, the scene of a deadly mass shooting in February. A gunman had opened fire on the East Lansing campus, killing three people and wounding five more. He shot and killed himself miles away after an hours-long manhunt involving hundreds of police officers.

According to the Gun Violence Archive which defines the crime as four or more people killed or injured by gunfire, there have been 234 mass shootings in the U.S. so far this year. Tuesday was the 222nd day of 2023. 

PHOTO: @GovWhitmer

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