Understanding Michigan’s new gun safety laws

On Behalf of | Feb 12, 2024 | Brian E. Gordon, Criminal Defense, Daniel B. Hess, Jr. |

Michigan has new safe gun storage laws taking effect on Feb. 13 as well as a number of others related to gun safety. That’s exactly one year after the mass shooting at Michigan State University in which a man killed three students and injured others. 

It also comes just after the mother of the teen who killed four students at Oxford High School in Nov. 2021 and injured even more was convicted of four counts of involuntary manslaughter for failing to stop her son from harming anyone. His father is awaiting trial. 

Locking up unattended firearms

Under one new safe storage law, gun owners must keep any unattended weapons on their property unloaded and locked or locked in a secured container if they can “reasonably know” that a minor could be present on the property. Another law taking effect this month will lower the price of gun safety devices.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), “Data shows firearms involved in unintentional firearm injury deaths among children and adolescents were often stored both loaded and unlocked, and children were most often fatally injured when the shooter was playing with or showing the firearm to others.”

Criminal consequences for gun owners

An accompanying law establishes criminal consequences for violating this law. The penalties vary depending on what the minor did with the weapon. For example, if they possess or exhibit it in front of others “in a careless, reckless or threatening manner,” the gun owner could serve three months in jail and face a $500 fine. If they discharge the gun and injure someone (including themselves), the person responsible for the weapon can face five to ten years in prison and have to pay up to $10,000, depending on the severity of the injuries. 

If a minor fatally wounds someone (including themselves), the gun owner can face 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Of course, as we have seen in the Crumbly case, parents and others responsible for a minor can face additional, more serious charges, depending on their level of culpability.

The other gun safety laws taking effect this month include laws around background checks, those convicted of domestic violence and “red flag” provisions that let people petition to have someone’s guns taken away if they could be a danger to themselves or others. If you’re a gun owner, it’s important to be familiar with these laws. If you’re facing gun-related charges, it’s crucial to have sound legal guidance to protect your rights.