'This will help save lives.' Detroit approves ordinance taking guns from domestic violence offenders

Posted at 5:42 AM, Oct 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-27 05:42:23-04

(WXYZ) — Detroit City Council voted unanimously to approve an ordinance that strips guns away from domestic violence offenders.

"This ordinance will help save lives," Councilman Scott Benson said.

The new measure is the first of its kind in the state, and comes on the heels of a spike in domestic violence homicides in Detroit. They are up 35% compared to 2019.

It's named for Detroit Police Sgt. Elaine Williams, who was killed by the father of her child in 2019. Benson said the ordinance could have saved her life, and Williams' mother hopes this prevents future tragedies.

"It's a wonderful thing. I cry with good tears," Christine Begoske, Williams' mother, said.

The "Sgt. Elaine Williams Domestic Violence Ordinance" mirrors federal law, and will allow for the taking of weapons from misdemeanor domestic violence offenders. City attorneys can now prosecute those cases in 36th district court. It will also make it illegal to sell guns to offenders.

Benson introduced the ordinance which the council passed unanimously.

"We now have empowered our police department to take away those weapons and help protect some of our most vulnerable residents in the city of Detroit," Benson said.

This does open the city up for legal challenges, Benson said, on the grounds of rights violations, but he said it's a risk they're willing to take.

A spokesperson for First Step, a support group for domestic violence victims serving Wayne County, said while removing guns won't stop domestic violence completely, it will help.

To give you a sense of where the numbers stand, according to the FBI, from 2015 to 2019, 91 women were fatally shot by their partners in Michigan. Of those, 65 percent were killed by a gun. That's above the 59 percent nationally.