NEWTOWN, Conn. — Last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into law gun safety legislation that expands background checks and implements secure gun storage requirements. Both the proposed background check and the safe storage policies will help keep guns from getting into the hands of individuals who may harm themselves or others.
“We applaud Gov. Whitmer and the Michigan legislators for enacting common-sense gun safety policies that are proven to save lives,” said Mark Barden, co-founder and CEO of Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund, and father of Daniel, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy on December 14, 2012. “Background checks and safe storage are proven to be effective at reducing gun violence while also protecting the rights of responsible gun owners.”
Prior to the new law, Michigan only required a license to buy pistols from private sellers. The new law expands the requirement to all gun purchases. State laws that have expanded background checks for all handgun sales are associated with lower rates of gun violence. During her testimony in support of the gun safety measures, Nicole Hockley, co-founder and CEO of Sandy Hook Promise, and mother of Dylan, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy on December 14, 2012, noted that securely storing firearms will save lives.
Hockley cited an April federal Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) report on U.S. gun crime found that in the last five years, more than 1 million firearms were reported as stolen. “The actual number is likely much higher, considering not all thefts are reported,” said Hockley. “A huge way for legally purchased guns to get in the hands of criminals is through theft, which is possible when safe storage is not utilized. This includes family members stealing unsecured weapons – according to research from the National Institute of Justice, over 80% of mass shooters at K-12 schools stole their guns from family members.”
“Safe storage is also critical to preventing suicide by firearm among young people. For instance, a November 2022 study examining firearm suicide data in five states — as captured in the National Violent Death Reporting System — found that 43% of young people (ages 18 – 20) used a family member’s firearm. This study also found that 79% of children who died as a result of suicide by firearm, used a family member’s gun,” said Hockley.
When signing the legislation, Gov. Whitmer encouraged legislators to do more. She specifically called on the legislature to send a “red flag” law, which would allow the temporary transfer of firearms from someone who is at risk of harming themselves or others, to her desk.
“This is not a partisan issue; gun violence is an American tragedy, touching every corner of our country and destroying countless lives,” said Barden. “That’s why the overwhelming majority of voters support sensible gun policy reforms and both state and federal elected officials should act now to pass common-sense gun safety measures.”
The Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund (SHPAF) is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization committed to protecting all children from gun violence in schools, homes, and communities. The SHP Action Fund advances a holistic policy platform that promotes gun safety, youth mental health, and violence prevention education. The organization works at the state and federal level to pass nonpartisan legislation through inclusive partnerships, diverse grassroots education, and community mobilization. It is part of Sandy Hook Promise, founded and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.
Aimee Thunberg | [email protected] | 646-761-5579