In early June, the Detroit Free Press published a terrifying story about a Michigan woman whose ex-husband has allegedly attempted, repeatedly, to solicit people to kill her while serving a prison sentence for stalking.
Two days later, 59 members of the state House of Representatives voted to allow people who’ve been convicted of stalking to carry concealed weapons without even having to get a permit. No questions asked.
House bills 4416-4419 would eliminate the requirement that Michigan residents obtain a license to carry a concealed weapon. With their vote, the 59 state reps — 58 of them Republican — said it’s no problem for people who haven’t had a background check or taken a single gun safety class to carry hidden, loaded handguns in the places where you shop, go to the movies and go out to eat with your family.
Even people who’ve been convicted of misdemeanor crimes, like stalking.
Michigan is already a shall-issue state, so the CPL requirements provide only the barest minimum of oversight. Still, it’s enough that law enforcement groups oppose removing the requirements.
As David Heller of the Fraternal Order of Police said: “To put a firearm in someone’s hands with absolutely no training is absolutely absurd.”
Nicole Beverly’s story shines a stark light on the myriad ways our government is failing to keep women and children safe — government at all levels, from the Legislature to the county prosecutors right down to our local first responders.
Here’s what the her ex-husband said he’s going to do when he gets out: “I’m going to get her and the kids together. I’m going to kill the kids in front of her, make her watch and then I’m going to kill her slow.”
He’s set to be released in August. Prosecutors have failed to bring charges against him for his repeated attempts to solicit someone to kill her.
Her home is supposed to be on the priority list for 911 calls, but when she recently reported a possible intruder, it took sheriff’s deputies more than an hour to respond.
And the Michigan Legislature has failed to pass laws that would better protect women and children from abusers. In a followup story the woman said she and her children are preparing to leave Michigan because there is no victim relocation program in Michigan to help survivors of domestic violence and stalking move to a safer location, and no help with identity changes or programs that provide financial support.
The Beverly case should trigger a top to bottom review of our domestic violence laws. At a minimum, we need laws empowering law enforcement to remove guns from the homes of convicted domestic abusers and stalkers, not laws that make it easier for them to carry concealed. On a federal level, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell is set to reintroduce legislation that would prevent stalkers from purchasing firearms, which would be a good start.
But here in Michigan, our Republican lawmakers instead pass “solutions” in search of a problem — like the dangerous CPL bill. This was a vote driven entirely by out-of-state special interests. It was not aimed at solving a problem for Michiganders, and it certainly was not what the vast majority of Michiganders even want. In a recent poll, 91 percent of Michigan residents — including 94 percent of Republicans and 84 percent of gun owners themselves — said they support keeping the CPL law as it is.
That didn’t matter to the 59, however, who proved they value NRA money far more than your opinion or your safety. And here’s the thing, for those inclined to write off domestic violence as a personal problem. Evidence is mounting that mass killers tend to have a history of domestic violence, so it behooves us all to start treating these crimes as seriously as they are.
The bills have been sent to the Senate, where their future is uncertain. Make your voice heard by contacting your state Senator and telling them you oppose putting concealed weapons in the hands of stalkers.
[CC image credit: Hibr via Flickr.]