Courts remove guns from dozens deemed a threat under Michigan red flag law - TAI News
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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signs Michigan’s Extreme Risk Protection Order Act in Lansing, May 22, 2023. Those standing with Whitmer include former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords and Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II. (Photo from

In the aftermath of a deadly 2021 mass shooting at an Oxford, Michigan, high school and a 2023 mass shooting at Michigan State University, the Democratic-led Michigan Legislature passed and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a series of laws in 2023 designed to curb gun violence and make schools safer. The state’s red flag law, which went into effect in February, has already been used to temporarily remove firearms from dozens of individuals judged to be an imminent threat to themselves or others.

Bob Stevenson, executive director of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, told the Michigan Independent that in the first three months, the law has already been used more than 80 times. More than 60 of the 83 protection orders approved to date have been requested by police agencies. “We are not getting any reports of any incidents surrounding them, meaning that the executions are all taking place peaceably,” he explained. “People are voluntarily complying with the orders.” 

A spokesperson for the Michigan State Police confirmed the numbers.

The law, officially called the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, allows police, health care professionals, and concerned family members to go to court to request that those seen as likely to endanger others or themselves have their firearms temporarily confiscated. It passed along party lines in the state Senate and House of Representatives, with Republicans strongly opposing it. Republican state Rep. Andrew Beeler warned the legislation would undermine due process and “allow the courts to take away, by government fiat, a law-abiding citizen’s property and right to self-defense, when the person has committed no crime — and without any other substantiated cause.”

Whitmer praised the law as she signed it in May 2023: “No Michigander should fear going to school, work, the grocery store, or their own home because of gun violence. Extreme risk protection orders have been proven to reduce suicides, save lives, and keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and violent criminals.”

Advocates say the law is helping. “We’re aware of a number of incidents where ERPO’s have been used to prevent gun violence,” End Gun Violence Michigan executive director Ryan Bates said in an email. “These include domestic violence and mental health episodes, and at least one ERPO was filed by a sheriff who swore that he would never do so. We’re thrilled to see that the new system is working. There are Michiganders who would have died, but their lives were saved by ERPO.”

The nonprofit news site Bridge Michigan reported on May 13 that Livingston County Sheriff Mike Murphy, who had previously called the law unconstitutional and said he would refuse to enforce it, was one of the first officials in Michigan to use it. His office has obtained at least two orders to temporarily disarm individuals. Murphy told the outlet that though he is still not enthusiastic about the law, “if there’s a tool that we can use in law enforcement to accomplish a goal, then why would we not use it?”

In 2022, President Joe Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, a gun violence compromise that included federal funding to help states that choose to adopt red flag laws successfully administer them. Michigan Democratic U.S. Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow voted for the law, as did Democratic Reps. Debbie Dingell, Dan Kildee, Rashida Tlaib, Haley Stevens, and Elissa Slotkin. Republican Reps. Jack Bergman, Bill Huizenga, Lisa McClain, John Moolenaar, and Tim Walberg all voted no.

A spokesperson for former U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, the current front-runner for the Republican nomination for the Michigan U.S. Senate seat that Stabenow will vacate at the end of her term in January, did not immediately respond to questions about his views on red flag laws. During his tenure in Congress, he earned an A rating and received thousands of dollars in campaign cash from the National Rifle Association, indicating his consistent opposition to gun safety legislation. 

In March 2023, Rogers called Michigan Democrats’ efforts to curb gun violence ineffective, telling Lansing TV station WLNS: “That’s exactly the worse way to make a law in the United States of America because you’re going to do something wrong, you’re going to poke somebody in the eye. This is the act of getting your fingers around somebody else’s throat when they do bills that don’t impact the issue.”

Asked about red flag laws and other gun safety measures by a New Hampshire voter that May, when he was considering a possible presidential run, Rogers said he’d be open to some background checks but dismissed other gun legislation: “We’re going to fight about these things that, candidly, I will tell you, will not make a hill bit of difference.”

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The Michigan Independent is a project of American Independent Media, a 501(c)(4) organization whose mission is to use journalism to educate the public, giving them the information they need about local and federal issues.