GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — As we remember the tragedy on Michigan State University’s campus that happened exactly one year ago Tuesday, we also look to the future by starting a new chapter in Michigan’s fight against gun violence.
In response the state’s two mass shootings in a 15-month span (Oxford High School, MSU), Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Democratic-led legislature signed several gun reform bills in law. On Tuesday, those laws take effect.
“They’re narrowly tailored, if you will, to address very specific problems,” said Pat Miles, former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan. “Problems that we have experienced, problems that we’ve seen repeatedly over the last few decades.”
The laws revolve around four main ideas: Universal Background Checks, Safe Storage Requirements, Extreme Risk Protection Orders (Red Flag Laws) and Limits on Domestic Abusers.
FOX 17 breaks them down below:
UNIVERSAL BACKGROUND CHECKS
Background checks, at a basic level, are nothing new to Michigan. Such checks have already been required for handgun purchases. Under this new law, background checks have now been extended to all firearms, including long guns.
Anyone buying any type of gun must first obtain a license or go through a national federal instant background check to purchase a firearm.
This is spelled out in Public Acts No. 18, No. 19 and No. 22.
Background checks look for previous felony convictions, commitments to mental institutions, a history of domestic violence and/or other concerning details about a prospective buyer’s past.
According to Miles, these are “common sense, minimal restrictions on gun ownership. In fact, they’re really not even a restriction as much as they are just a step in a process towards getting a firearm.”
SAFE STORAGE REQUIREMENTS
Public Act No. 15, No. 16 and No. 17 were adopted to protect Michigan families, especially children, from the dangers of violence.
It “requires individuals to keep unattended weapons unloaded and locked with a locking device or stored in a locked box or container if it is reasonably known that a minor is likely to be present on the premises,” according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. That means, even if you on someone else’s property, if a child is present, your unattended gun must be locked away.
This applies to any firearm purchased before or after Feb. 13, and aims to address an issue that isn’t unique to Michigan.
In fact, healthychildren.org said 4.6 million kids live in homes with unlocked, loaded guns.
“When gun violence is the leading cause of death among children, then we’ve got a problem,” Miles said. “So this legislation is an effort to fix that problem.”
Watch our full interview below with Miles.
Pat Miles on New Gun Laws
Pat Miles on New Gun Laws
While lawmakers hope this change will inspire gun owners to take the necessary steps toward preventing a tragedy, it really makes a difference on the back end during prosecution.
According to a summary of the safe storage laws by Michigan’s House Fiscal Agency, here are the potential penalties for a violation:
• If the minor possesses or exhibits the firearm in a public place or possesses or exhibits the firearm in the presence of another person in a careless, reckless, or threatening manner: a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to 93 days or a fine of up to $500, or both
• If the minor discharges the firearm and injures themselves or another individual: a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to five years or a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
• If the minor discharges the firearm and inflicts serious impairment of a body function1 on themselves or another individual: a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years or a fine of up to $7,500, or both.
• If the minor discharges the firearm and inflicts death on themselves or another individual: a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to 15 years or a fine of up to $10,000, or both. The criminal penalties could be imposed in addition to any penalty that may be imposed for any other criminal offense arising from the same conduct.
EXTREME RISK PROTECTION ORDERS
Perhaps the most controversial piece of legislation deals with Extreme Risk Protection Orders, commonly referred to as ‘Red Flag Laws.’
Public Acts No. 37 and No. 38 aim to take guns out of the hands of people who might be at risk of harming themselves or others. Michigan was the 21st state in the country to enact such laws.
Essentially, a judge can enforce an order if someone is unfit to purchase or possess a firearm. That determination would be based on the petition process through evidence provided by law enforcement agencies, medical and mental health care providers, family members, legal guardians, former spouses, dating partners or previous house/roommates.
If the judge deems the matter an emergency, firearms can be removed from the respondent immediately. In most other cases, the judge will notify the respondent of the petition ahead of a hearing process.
As Miles explains, a single example of a mental health episode will likely not lead to an ERPO:
“If there is a history of violence, a history of personal protection orders being taken out that go back several months or years, then that is certainly gonna be taken into account versus somebody who’s never had a history of violence,” he said.
Miles called ERPO’s procedural guard rails, ones that Clinical Psychologist Susan Silk, PhD, from Southfield, Michigan, said could’ve prevented the unfortunate tragedies that led to this law.
“Those four kids in Oxford, and those three kids at MSU, probably would be alive today if somebody had activated a red flag,” she said, “but it doesn’t address the larger mental health issue.”
Watch our full interview below with Silk.
Susan Silk on New Gun Laws
Susan Silk on New Gun Laws
The challenge, Silk admitted, is balancing people’s civil rights while also protecting the public.
“I would be willing to bet my — anything — that there are no active shooter instances where there were lots and lots and lots of warning signs,” she said. “The reverse, however, is not true. That’s what makes it so difficult. Lots of people make threats, lots of people exhibit warning signs who never act on them.”
ERPO’s, when issued, are not permanent. Instead, they expire one year after the application date.
LIMITS ON DOMESTIC ABUSERS
Public Act No. 200 prevents convicted domestic violence abusers from purchasing or owning guns and ammo for eight years.
Public Acts No. 199 and No. 201 take it even further by forbidding those convicted of misdemeanors involving domestic violence from using or owning guns and ammo, and clarify what domestic violence actions constitute disqualification from owning guns.
You can read more from our FOX 17 coverage when these domestic violence-related laws were signed into law in Nov. 2023.
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Craig Roh, Former Michigan Football Player, Dead at 33 Following Colon Cancer Diagnosis
Former Michigan football player Craig Roh has died at the age of 33.
The wife of the former Michigan defensive lineman, Chelsea Roh, announced the news in a post on X (formerly known as Twitter), on Wednesday saying that Roh had been diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer for 18 months before his death on Monday.
“Craig was not very public with his battle, as he truly just wanted to focus on bringing the best content and building the best products he could,” she wrote on X. “He laid out a timeline for his business so stay tuned… Many have asked how they can help, I’ve attached our GoFundMe to this post.”
“Craig did not want to go public with his diagnosis and battle because, in true Craig fashion, he did not want the attention to be on him,” the GoFundMe from Roh’s family added. “From chemo, to targeted therapy, to clinical trials at MD Anderson and in Honduras, Craig was resilient [until] the very end.”
The family said it will be using any money raised by the GoFundMe to pay for Roh’s medical expenses and future schooling for his son Max as “they mourn and start to rebuild their life.” Funeral services for Roh will be held on Mar. 16 in Phoenix, Ariz.
Roh was born on Jan. 25, 1991, and from a very young age was interested in sports, academics and bible study, according to a biography of his life on the GoFundMe. At 6-years-old, he began his journey as an athlete by playing football and basketball at the local YMCA and Boys and Girls Club.
He carried that passion for playing football into Chaparral High School and became a varsity football starter during his Sophomore year. By his senior year, he was awarded Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year and Under Armor All-America. Due to his high level of play, he picked up offers from 35 Division I programs and ultimately chose to accept a full-ride scholarship to play football at The University of Michigan.
While playing at Michigan, he set even more records, becoming the player with the most consecutive starts in a career from freshman year to senior year. He earned several more titles including freshman All-American, All-Big Ten, and Top Michigan Defensive Lineman.
After college, he moved onto the professional NFL scene, playing one year for the Carolina Panthers, before playing professional football in the Canadian Football League. He moved to Vancouver, Canada and played for the BC Lions and won a CFL Grey Cup championship.
After his football career ended, Roh went into the technology business. He moved his family to Austin, Tx. where he worked for various startups. His love for football wasn’t too far away though as he also worked to build an “online defensive line coaching football business,” added the GoFundMe statement.
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Roh met Chelsea after college and married her in 2016. Five years later, the couple welcomed their son Max.
“Craig didn’t care about the frivolous things of life. He wanted to spend all of his time caring, loving, and building a life around the things that he believed mattered,” the GoFundMe read. “Whether it was his faith, his marriage, his son, his family, his friends or his business he always had an unrelenting focus with his time and energy.”
Michigan’s Primary Shows Biden Is Courting Political Suicide
In the days leading up to yesterday’s Democratic primary in Michigan, President Joe Biden’s White House and reelection campaign were reportedly “freaking out” about the grassroots push to protest his handling of the Israel-Gaza conflict by getting voters to check “uncommitted” on the ballot. With the votes now cast and tallied up, it’s easy to see why.
“Uncommitted” came second in the Michigan primary with 13 percent of the vote, making up just shy of 101,000 individual votes, in a stunning rebuke of an incumbent president by the voters meant to be his most committed supporters. The three-week-old campaign cleared its own, self-set benchmark of ten thousand votes in a matter of hours.
Critics, not unfairly, charged the target had been set artificially low to exceed expectations. Yet by the end of the night, the final total was not just ten times this number. It was both a higher percentage and roughly five times the raw total that “uncommitted” drew against Barack Obama in the state’s 2012 primary. That was a year in which Obama’s reelection chances were considered perilous, owing to the then president’s sagging approval rating — one that was nonetheless still seven points higher than Biden’s current, historically low approval.
Last night’s “uncommitted” vote was also far higher than that of the Michigan Republican primary four years ago, when Biden’s likely opponent Donald Trump was the unpopular incumbent fighting for reelection, but saw only 4.2 percent (or 28,485) of his own party’s voters in the state rebuke him in the same way.
The result is both a breathtaking organizing achievement and a testament to Democratic voters’ near-unprecedented discontent with their own president.
The Listen to Michigan campaign, organized by a broad collection of activists comprising, among others, young voters, Arab and Muslim Americans, local Democrats, and left-wing organizations like Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), managed this after only three weeks of work and little funding. The most high-profile support it got was from congresswoman and DSA member Rashida Tlaib, who has been roundly attacked in the media for backing the effort, and former congressman Beto O’Rourke. This all comes amid a Democratic primary contest that has been specially shaped to smother opposition to Biden and smooth his way into the general election, from nonsensically rearranging the primary schedule to favor the president, to canceling debates and depriving his few challengers of both airtime and ballot access.
More ominous for Biden is what this result signals for his chances to win the key battleground state in November. Biden’s winning margin there four years ago was roughly 155,000 votes, not much more than the number of “uncommitted” Michiganders this year — and that came under historically favorable conditions, when Biden was viewed vastly more favorably, and as a result of a determined organizing campaign by many of the same groups and individuals now involved in whipping “uncommitted” votes.
Maybe more significant was Trump’s winning margin of eleven thousand votes in 2016, when Democratic turnout was depressed by a lack of enthusiasm, as well as the figure that the Listen to Michigan campaign pointedly took up as its goal. As Dearborn mayor Abdullah Hammoud put it, “We’re not sizable enough to make a candidate win. But we’re sizable enough to make a candidate lose.”
Sure enough, “uncommitted” trounced the president by sixteen points last night in heavily Arab and Muslim Dearborn, which Biden had won in 2020 with 74 percent of the vote. Similarly, Washtenaw County, home to state colleges including the University of Michigan, saw “uncommitted” take home 17 percent of the vote, a sign of young voters’ well-documented disapproval of Biden’s unconditional support for the war. Both groups were key parts of Biden’s winning coalition over Trump in 2020, not just in Michigan but nationwide.
All of this amounts to a resoundingly clear message to Biden on Gaza from the Democratic base, one that the president is showing some signs of comprehending. On the eve of the vote, Biden told reporters in a rare televised appearance that his “hope” was to have a cease-fire in place by next Monday. California representative Ro Khanna — who has visited Michigan and urged Biden behind the scenes to change course on Gaza out of concern it could cost him the election — has said the timing of Biden’s announcement wasn’t a coincidence. Former defense secretary Mark Esper told CNN that Israeli officials he spoke to had been “surprised” by Biden’s admission, adding that “a cynic might say that President Biden said that because we’re on the eve last night of the Michigan primary, where words like that would resonate well with Arab Americans and Muslim Americans.”
What’s not clear is whether Biden is really intending to follow through. In the same interview, Esper disclosed that Israeli officials were confused by Biden’s words, since what they wanted was a “pause” or “temporary cease-fire.” The most recent news is that the administration has given Israel until the middle of March to put in writing that it will let humanitarian aid into Gaza and won’t violate international law while taking US weapons, which the State Department will then certify by the end of the month. That suggests that if a cease-fire doesn’t come by Monday, Biden will allow Israel at least another month to wage its war before considering cutting off the flow of arms, if that even happens.
Even if a cease-fire does come, it’s unclear if it will take the permanent form that Listen to Michigan organizers are demanding, or if it will hew closer to what Israeli officials are envisioning. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to press forward with an Israeli assault on Rafah — where 1.4 million Gazans were corralled into on the false pretense that it would be a “safe area” — after a pause that lasts at most two months, which would make the cease-fire functionally meaningless.
Though some disaffected voters, like organizers of the smaller “Abandon Biden” campaign, view their goal as convincing voters to sit out the presidential election and inflict a political defeat on Biden, supporters of Listen to Michigan explicitly framed their effort as a way to shake the White House awake and give Biden a path to winning back their votes. It remains to be seen if he’ll listen: according to Politico this morning, “presidential aides continue to believe that today’s ‘uncommitted’ voters will be November’s Biden voters once they have a stark choice in front of them.”
This is a big gamble, especially for the president himself. Biden has staked much of his legacy on his defeat of Trump in 2020 and came into office with ambitions of being a historic, consequential leader. Long resentful at team Obama’s tendency to look down their noses at him, Biden reportedly loved the growing narrative at the start of his presidency that he was a bolder leader than his former boss.
By ignoring the demands of pro-cease-fire voters — now the overwhelming majority of not just his own party but virtually every demographic in the United States — Biden risks being remembered as a disastrous one-term president who split his own party and brought a far more virulent, radical Trump presidency to power, all thanks to a stubborn and increasingly inexplicable determination to back a foreign government’s unpopular, heinous war.
The president’s aides have reportedly been “keeping him in a bubble” regarding voters’ unhappiness with his Israel-Gaza policy. If this Michigan result isn’t what bursts it, then they need to step in and do it themselves.
The Michigan Areas Where ‘Uncommitted’ Came Out Ahead
More than 100,000 Michigan voters cast a vote for “uncommitted” in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, a protest vote voicing opposition to President Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war. Two counties in particular, containing communities with high shares of Arab residents and younger voters, drove a third of the protest vote, according to a New York Times analysis of precinct results.
In Wayne County, where more than half of the state’s Arab population lives, 79 percent of the vote went to “uncommitted” in majority-Arab districts.
This was particularly pronounced in Dearborn, Dearborn Heights and Hamtramck, the three townships with the highest concentrations of Arab Americans.
For Arab Americans who sought to send a warning signal to Mr. Biden over his handling of the Israel-Hamas war, Tuesday’s protest vote largely achieved its goals, though it is unclear what that will portend for the general election in November. In Wayne County alone, the 26,000 votes for “uncommitted” surpassed one group’s target of 10,000.
The push for “uncommitted” spread beyond Arab American communities. In all but a handful of counties, “uncommitted” received 10 percent or more of the total vote in the Democratic primary. In past uncompetitive presidential primaries and caucuses across the country, the typical protest vote has been about 7 percent.
In Washtenaw County, “uncommitted” received more than 17 percent — tied with Wayne County for the highest share in the state.
This is largely attributable to the vote in areas with higher shares of voters ages 18 to 29, like Ann Arbor, home to the University of Michigan, and Ypsilanti, home to Eastern Michigan University.
In Michigan, “uncommitted” received two delegates to the Democratic National Convention. These delegates are not pledged to Mr. Biden and are free to vote for a nominee of their choosing at the convention.
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