The White House announced on Dec. 13 the launch by Vice President Kamala Harris of the Safer States Initiative, a program to further coordinate efforts between state governments and the federal government on efforts to reduce gun violence.
The central focus of the announcement was the release of the Safer States Agenda by the newly established White House Office of Gun Prevention. The document outlines six core actions on gun violence the White House said states could adopt over the next year.
The actions include establishing a state office of gun violence prevention; investing in violence intervention programs; increasing funding to programs that support gun violence victims and survivors; and enhancing gun regulations, strengthening background checks, and passing legislation making gun manufacturers more accountable for the results of gun violence.
“In the months ahead, the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention will continue to proactively work with states to make sure they have additional resources and support needed to advance these agenda items,” the White House said in a statement.
In concert with the announcement, the Department of Justice released model legislation to assist state legislatures in passing laws to reduce gun violence. The first model bill is focused on laying out requirements for gun owners who store weapons in their homes and vehicles, with the goal of blocking access by children and others who are prohibited from possessing firearms. The other bill is focused on helping states to accelerate the process of reporting lost or stolen weapons to the police.
In Michigan, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has taken action to combat gun violence.
On April 13, Whitmer signed an 11-bill package of legislation that will require everyone purchasing a gun in the state to undergo a background check. Previously, background checks were only required for purchasers of pistols. The new law makes purchasers of rifles and shotguns subject to the same regulations. The legislation also requires gun owners to keep their unloaded weapons stored in a locked container when a minor is present or likely to be present.
“Universal background checks and safe storage are long-overdue steps we are proud to take today that will save lives by keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and domestic abusers and children in the home,” Whitmer said in a statement.
Whitmer signed a bill on Nov. 20 that extends a ban on gun ownership to people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence. The previous law had only applied to those convicted of felony domestic abuse.
Gun violence remains a persistent problem in the state and throughout the country.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Michigan had 15.4 gun deaths per 100,000 people in 2021 compared to 14.6 gun deaths across the United States. The state with the highest rate of gun deaths was Mississippi (33.9), while the lowest was Massachusetts (3.4).The Gun Violence Archive has recorded 14 mass shootings in Michigan in 2023, with a total death toll of 13.