PLAINWELL, Mich. — Two bills introduced at the statehouse by a Republican lawmaker are designed to tighten gun ownership restrictions on people convicted of domestic violence.
Under current state law, a person guilty of domestic violence against someone in a dating relationship is allowed to obtain and keep a gun. If the violence is committed against a spouse, the offender cannot have a gun. This difference is known as the “boyfriend loophole.”
State Rep. Daire Rendon introduced House bills 4497 and 4498 in April. She’s joined by sponsors from both major parties, including Reps. Tommy Brann, and Rachel Hood.
“Gun violence, especially against women is something that has become more commonplace than we care to admit,” Rendon told CNN affiliate WXMI.
Rendon said the bills take current laws and “give them teeth.”
“We had sections in the law that said people who do these things shouldn’t have guns, there really wasn’t very much enforcement in making that happen,” Rendon said. “It says in the law you shouldn’t have one but just because the law says you shouldn’t have one, there was nothing there to say that they needed to be removed.”
The bills address the fact that there is a conviction and that the offender cannot have a gun. The measures say after a hearing with the defendant, the state can take away the offender’s gun.
Currently, only federal authorities can take guns away from domestic violence offenders. According to two parents who lost their daughter to gun violence, local authorities with a court order need to be able to do the same.
In 2016, more women were killed by men in Michigan than the national average, according to an April study by the Violence Policy Center. The most common weapon used in these homicides was a gun.
The same study ranked Michigan the sixth highest in the nation for black homicide rates in 2015. The vast majority of victims were killed by someone they knew with a gun.
Rick and Martha Omilian lost their 19-year-old daughter Maggie in 1999 when she was murdered by her former boyfriend. He shot her in a dorm room at Kalamazoo College before turning the gun on himself. He used a shotgun that he purchased legally.
“We’re not saying that this one bill will change everything or we’d save every woman like Maggie but along with other bills at the federal level and other state bills about red flag laws, extreme risk protection orders, background checks, expanded background checks, those kinds of things together can make a difference in the kind of thing that happened to our daughter,” Rick Omilian said.
He said the ex-boyfriend threatened to kill himself several times before the murder-suicide. Had it been reported under a red flag law, the Omilians believe their daughter’s death could have been prevented. — CNN