Michigan lawmakers attend White House meeting on ‘red flag’ gun reform laws

By: - February 23, 2023 3:56 pm

Sen. Rosemary Bayer speaks at a press conference demanding gun control legislation on Feb. 20, 2023, one week after a mass shooting on the campus of Michigan State University. (Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance)

Updated, 6:54 p.m. 2/23/23

A trio of Michigan lawmakers participated in a White House meeting Wednesday to discuss Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) laws, more commonly referred to as “red flag” laws.

ERPO laws allow family members, law enforcement, or other responsible individuals to request a court order that would temporarily prohibit people in crisis from accessing firearms if they present a danger to themselves or others. 

Nineteen states currently have ERPO laws in place, while Michigan and Minnesota are considering such legislation this session. Others, including Colorado, Vermont, and Florida, are seeking to strengthen and expand their existing ERPO laws.

Wednesday’s meeting was convened by Julie Chavez Rodriguez, President Biden senior advisor and White House intergovernmental affairs director, along with Stefanie Feldman, Biden deputy assistant and senior advisor to the domestic policy advisor, and Rosie Hidalgo, Biden special assistant and senior advisor on gender-based violence.

State Rep. Ranjeev Puri (D-Canton) | Ken Coleman photo

Three Michigan legislators attended: State Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D-Beverly Hills), Rep. Ranjeev Puri (D-Canton) and Rep. Kelly Breen (D-Novi).

It is the third gathering hosted by White House officials on ERPO laws, following a meeting in 2022 with legislative leaders and a 2021 session with attorneys general.

Bayer, who helps lead the Michigan Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention Caucus, told the Michigan Advance she was honored to participate in the discussion and provide updates on the effort to implement gun violence reduction bills, including those introduced in Michigan last week.

“It was very beneficial to hear directly from legislators in states like Florida, Colorado and Illinois where they already have legislation similar to bills we recently introduced,” said Bayer. “As my colleagues and I continue to work to address this issue throughout our terms, Michiganders will benefit knowing that we are learning from and leveraging experience from the U.S. Capitol and other states.”

Bayer and other Democrats in the Senate introduced 11 bills last week aimed at reducing gun violence, including Senate Bills 8386, which would allow for red flag laws.

This comes after a Feb. 13 mass shooting at Michigan State University and another at Oxford High School in November 2021.

While Democratic legislators introduced similar bills in previous legislative sessions, the efforts stalled in committee, unable to receive a hearing without support from the GOP majority. However, now Democrats hold narrow control of both the House and Senate.

Puri also agreed that meeting with legislators from other states to discuss ERPO best practices was beneficial.

“The policy has proven to be effective at preventing senseless gun violence and has been passed into law in numerous states across the country in various forms,” he said. “I am confident that the new Democratic majorities in Lansing will act swiftly to move common sense gun reform, including ERPO legislation, to make Michigan safer for our students and communities.”

Michigan State University students and members of surrounding communities pay their respects for victims of the mass shooting on MSU’s campus at the Rock, which is painted to read “HOW MANY MORE?” on Feb. 14, 2023. (Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance)

Puri was more direct in his desire for gun reform following the shooting at MSU that killed three students and critically wounded five others.

“F—k your thoughts and prayers,” read the opening line of a statement he issued in the hours after the shooting.

“ … Thoughts and prayers without action and change are meaningless. Our office will continue to work tirelessly to pass common sense gun reform immediately. We will not stop until our students can attend school without fear, our communities can attend places of worship in peace, and our society is safe from senseless gun violence.”

Breen echoed Puri’s sentiments in a subsequent tweet, writing: “Policy & change. F—k your thoughts and prayers. I will not mince words.”

The bipartisan Safer Communities Act, signed by Biden last year, includes $750 million in federal funding for states to implement ERPO laws. Last week, the Department of Justice announced an investment of over $231 million through 49 grant awards to states, territories, and the District of Columbia to fund the creation and implementation of ERPO programs, state crisis intervention court proceedings, and related gun violence reduction initiatives. Nearly $8 million of that was awarded to the Michigan State Police.

Other state legislative leaders attending the meeting were Colorado Rep. Mike Weissman, Florida Sen. Lori Berman and Illinois Rep. Maura Hirschauer, all Democrats.


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Jon King
Jon King

Jon King has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He is the Past President of the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors Association and has been recognized for excellence numerous times, most recently in 2021 with the Best Investigative Story by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Cleary University. Jon and his family live in Howell, where he also serves on the Board of Directors for the Livingston Diversity Council.