Michigan House Republicans
“Guilty until proven innocent” red flag legislation a daring overreach of government
RELEASE|April 13, 2023
Contact: Joseph Fox

By State Rep. Joseph Fox, of Fremont

House Bills 4145-4148 and Senate Bills 83-86 establish “Extreme Risk Protection Orders” (ERPOs), otherwise known as “red flag” laws, in Michigan. The bills would permit ERPOs to be filed with a court which, if issued, would force certain individuals who pose a “significant risk” of injury to themselves or others to relinquish the firearms in their possession, and prevent them from purchasing any for a full year. The person filing the ERPO would need to be somehow related to the defendant: he or she could be the defendant’s former or current spouse, could have a child in common with the defendant, or could be a family member, for example.

An ERPO can be issued based on extremely minimal evidence. Once it’s filed, the defendant, who may be completely mentally sound and law-abiding, would be notified and a law enforcement officer would carry out the order. The defendant would be under penalty of a misdemeanor at first, and then a felony for a second offense. They do not have an opportunity to argue his or her case in court before the ERPO is issued – the plaintiff only needs to present evidence that the defendant presents a risk to the community with continued possession of the firearm. If the court agrees, then it will issue an ERPO, and only one business day after its enforcement, the defendant will need to submit proof to the court that the firearms have been relinquished – even if the defendant had no firearms to begin with. A hearing would then be held in which the defendant can request to revoke the order, but he or she must prove innocence; otherwise, the order stands for at least a year, and potentially longer.

These bills exist in flagrant contradiction to every law-abiding American’s Second Amendment right to own a firearm. Bearing arms is an essential liberty – a freedom that has existed in our country for nearly two hundred and fifty years – that is now being sacrificed on the altar of public safety. These bills permit aggravated ex-spouses, ex-girlfriends, or ex-boyfriends to retaliate against their former partners by filing ERPOs against them, even if they’ve have had no contact for years. Moreover, the ERPO cuts due process short by not providing an opportunity for the accused to make a defense before the ERPO is issued and establishes a “guilty until proven innocent” rule if an appeal is made – cutting against an essential tenet of the American judicial system.

Despite my ‘no’ votes on Thursday, House Bills 4145-4148 and Senate Bill 83 passed the House. The House Bills will now move to the Democrat-controlled Senate for consideration.

I am appalled at the lack of concern that Lansing Democrats and the governor have shown about the basic liberties of Michigan citizens. Every law-abiding individual has a right to possess firearms to protect themselves, their families, and their property. I will not support bills that infringe on the Second Amendment, and will keep fighting to protect your rights as your state representative.

State Rep. Joe Fox is in his first term in the Michigan House, and serves the 101st district which includes Newaygo County, and portions of Oceana, Lake, Mason and Wexford counties.

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