Michigan's safe storage gun law begins Feb. 13: What to know

Michigan's new safe storage gun law, signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in April 2023, will go into effect on Feb. 13.

According to the safe storage bill, all Michigan gun owners with children in the home must securely lock away their firearms – with a cable lock or in a gun safe.

A group of gun owners in favor of the new law gathered on Wednesday to explain it to the public and reduce any fears surrounding the change.

"I have two grand babies and the last thing I want is for one of them to find my weapon," said Ken Whittaker, the executive director of Michigan United. "The safe storage law is a motivation. It’s an educational piece that allows us to understand the importance of this issue and keep our guns locked up."

Under the new legislation, gun owners must also safely store their guns in instances where children are visiting their home. 

The safe storage bill is just one of several gun reform bills signed by Whitmer last year – including extreme risk protection orders known as red flag laws, universal background checks, and laws meant to disarm those convicted of domestic violence.

Whittaker said, as a gun owner, the new laws do not infringe on his freedoms.

"I don't see this being a challenge to the Second Amendment at all," he said. "We still have all of the rights that we had before these laws were passed."

With Democrats in control of both chambers in Lansing, and with a Democratic governor, legislators used the trifecta to pass the new gun reform bills.

The legislature acted after two mass shootings at Michigan schools in the span of 15 months: the Oxford High School shooting on Nov. 30, 2021, and the Michigan State University shooting on Feb. 13, 2023.

There have been concerns about the safe storage law, particularly about the speed at which gun owners might be able to retrieve their firearm when necessary.

"It’s an issue of training. It’s only a matter of seconds to unsecure that weapon from a biometric safe," said Jon Gold, the co-president of Giffords Gun Owners for Safety in Michigan. "I will admit, with the cable locks and the keys, if you’re in a time of great stress and need manual dexterity – sometimes that’s problematic."

Should a child manage to access a firearm, the gun's owner might be subject to a misdemeanor charge, which could entail penalties of up to $500 and a maximum of 93 days in jail. However, if the child inflicts harm upon themselves or others using the firearm, the owner can face a felony charge, fines of up to $10,000, and a prison sentence up to 15 years – particularly if the incident results in a fatality.