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Proposed bill would temporarily take guns from people who pose threat to selves or others

Miki Yoshihito

State representative Robert Wittenberg, D-Huntington Woods,  introduced gun legislation on Wednesday that he said will help prevent mass shootings and suicides.

Under the package of bills, a judge could temporarily bar a person from possessing or buying firearms and could also order law enforcement to temporarily confiscate the weapons. But this could happen only if the judge finds, after the submission of evidence by law enforcement or an immediate family member, that the person poses a significant danger to themselves or others by possessing a firearm.

The person against whom the judge issues the order has the opportunity to ask at any time that the order be cancelled or modified.

The judge's order would end after one year unless it is renewed in a new court hearing.

"We don't want, here in Michigan, to be reactive," said Wittenberg. "We don't want a tragedy to happen where we can say, you know we should have done something. And you know what, it's happening every day when we're talking about suicide."

"These mass shootings are tragic and they're horrible when they happen," Wittenberg said today on Stateside. "But when we're talking about gun violence and gun deaths, over two thirds are suicides."

He later explained further, "At some point, they're exhibiting behavior that they're a danger to themselves or somone else.  And currently we have no recourse to be able to seize their weapons and get them help before they do something bad, before they break the law. We need to draw that line and figure out when that time is that we are able to actually take their weapons away and get them the help they need. And it's temporary. It's not indefinite. It's temporary. It's with due process." 

According to Wittenberg, eleven other states have passed legislation similar to the recently introduced package of bills. Wittenberg introduced H.B. 4283,  and co-sponsored 4284, and 4285.

"We don't have any Republican colleagues that co-sponsored this legislation," said Wittenberg. "But I can tell you I've had many conversations with Republicans who said, 'We love the work you're doing. Please keep it up.' And if it gets to them to vote, they would be supportive."

Wittenberg said he has introduced similar legislation in the Michigan House  twice before. 

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