DETROIT (WXYZ) — The Detroit City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to take guns away from convicted domestic violence offenders.
The ordinance strips guns away from domestic violence offenders who have misdemeanor convictions.
It is called the Sgt. Elaine Williams Domestic Violence Ordinance and mirrors federal law. Detroit Police Sgt. Elaine Williams was shot several times at close range in 2019 by her son's father Eddie Johnson.
Their child witnessed his father shoot his mother to death.
Christine Begoske, Sgt. Williams' mother, feared he would eventually hurt her daughter and spoke out about the new ordinance.
“This will save the lives of many women like my daughter,” Begoske of Westland said. “It’s a great honor, a great thing and if she were here, she would be proud.
Begoske had urged Sgt. Williams to end the relationship. She repeatedly warned her daughter. Williams did try to end it and thought she had one more time, according to her mother.
“I try to tell anybody who will hear me. One hit is enough,” Begoske said. “Anytime a man puts his hands on you one time, leave him alone because it’s going to get worse and worse and worse.”
Detroit Councilmember Scott Benson submitted the ordinance for approval in an effort to keep people from being injured or murdered by people they are in relationships with.
“When people have issues controlling their emotions, they can’t handle the responsibility of possessing a weapon,” he said. “Their guns need to be taken away; this is another tool to do that.”
Domestic violence advocacy group, First Step works with domestic and sexual violence survivors and their families in Wayne County.
In a statement to Seven Action News, their executive director Lori Kitchen-Buschel says:
"The ordinance proposed by Counselman Benson will help to create a barrier for assailantsseeking power and control, that have a proven record of violence, from using firearms to assert more control and murder their victims. This ordinance is a commonsense policy to help limit homicide and domestic violence escalation in the City of Detroit. First Step is in support of this ordinance to allow for increased safety in the community."
From 2015 to 2019, 91 women were fatally shot by an intimate partner in Michigan.
17 women were shot and killed by their partners in 2019. In 2020, violence-related homicides jumped to 23 in Detroit, a 35% increase.
Antoinette James, an advocate for a crime victim service program called Open Arms, says here caseload has skyrocketed since the pandemic began.
“This is a desperate situation, and something must be done to protect these women,” she said. “I’m hopeful this ordinance will help save lives.”
The local head of Michigan Moms Demand Action in Detroit is also hopeful the ordinance will curb the violence.
“With the rise in calls to domestic violence hotlines during the pandemic, and more than half of shootings involving a perpetrator who killed an intimate partner or family member, it’s clear that we need to do all we can to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers,” Reid said. “Passing this ordinance would be a life-saving step for Detroit and state lawmakers should follow suit to protect women, families, and communities.”
There are several resources for victims. You can call First Step's 24-hour hotline at 734-722-6800 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.