Anthony McRae, 43, went to Michigan State University on the night of February 13 with two handguns and dozens of bullets. He opened fire, killing three students and hurting five more. The mass shooting has pushed Michigan Democrats to make changes to gun laws, which they had already planned to do.
This week, Democrats are expected to bring a package of 11 bills to the Michigan Legislature to make guns safer. This is because they won big in statewide elections in November, which gave them control of the legislature. In response to the fact that there have been two mass shootings at schools in the past 15 months, the party’s leaders say this is just the start of gun reform in the state.
Rosemary Bayer, a Democrat and the leader of the gun safety caucus, said, “Nothing is off the table.” “But each state has its own way of life. So I think we’re trying to be aware of Michigan and how we do things.”
The goal of the package is to create safe storage laws, background checks for everyone, and extreme risk protection orders, also called “red flag laws.” Less than three years have passed since protesters with guns broke into the statehouse. Lawmakers will now look at the package.
Republican Rep. Angela Rigas said on the House floor last week before Democrats voted to approve universal background checks, “Tyrannical government, like what we’re seeing here today, is why the Second Amendment is here in the first place.”
After the shooting at Michigan State University, the bills were put on the table. Students were told to stay put on the huge campus for four hours while police looked for McRae. When confronted by police, McRae shot himself near his home in Lansing.
Arielle Anderson, 19, Brian Fraser, 20, and Alexandria Verner, also 20, were killed in the shooting. All of them lived in a suburb of Detroit. After a shooting at Oxford High School that killed four students and hurt seven others nearly 15 months ago, Democrats worked on a lot of the package. Since Republicans ran the House and Senate, the bills didn’t move much.
But this month, when Democrats took full control of the state government for the first time in decades, the bills were quickly sent to committees in the House and Senate. Gun violence survivors and the families of people who were killed by guns filled committee meeting rooms and spoke to lawmakers in tears.
“I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. Reina St. Juliana, a senior at Oxford High School, told lawmakers at a March 2 hearing, “I want you to change.” Hana, who was St. Juliana’s younger sister, was shot and killed in Oxford. Krista Grettenberger went to a meeting with lawmakers on Wednesday to talk about a phone call she got from her 21-year-old son, MSU student Troy Forbush, on February 13.
“My son called my cellphone and said: ‘I love you mom. I’ve been shot. There’s a shooter,’” Grettenberger said. Forbush was critically injured in the shooting, but survived.
“We are victim of a failed system that can’t keep guns from those who aim to inflict devastating harm”
In the last few years, mass shootings across the U.S. seem to have made the political divide on gun ownership even bigger. Democratic-led states with strict gun laws have responded to tragedies in their own states by passing and proposing even stricter gun laws.
In many states with legislatures run by Republicans, the shootings don’t seem likely to lead to any new restrictions this year. This is because people in those states believe that violent people are the problem, not the fact that they have guns.
Under Michigan law, a person must be at least 18 years old to buy a rifle or shotgun and at least 21 years old to buy a handgun from a federally licensed dealer. With the right license, people who are 18 can buy handguns from private sellers.
Police said that the MSU shooter, McRae, had dozens of rounds of ammunition and two handguns that had been legally bought but never registered. This problem would be fixed by a bill that passed the House on Wednesday. It would make the seller responsible for doing the background check and registering the gun with the police. Democrats say that the Oxford attack could have been stopped by safe storage and red flag laws.
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Said U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, who represents East Lansing-
“The whole story of Oxford was this kid just grabbed his parents’ gun and took it to school and it wasn’t locked up. There was no safe, there was no gun lock. There was no check on this kid”
Ethan Crumbley, a student who was accused of shooting four other students and wounding seven others when he was only 15, has admitted to doing so. He did this with a gun that he said his father bought for him. James and Jennifer Crumbley are accused of killing someone without meaning to. They are accused of giving their son easy access to the gun and not taking care of Ethan well enough when he was showing signs of mental distress.
Bayer told The Associated Press that she thinks the state Senate will quickly pass laws about universal background checks and safe storage, but that Democrats are “still working on” red flag laws. Republicans say that the current gun laws should not be changed, but should be enforced better. In 2019, an ex-prosecutor dropped a felony charge against McRae that would have made it illegal for him to own a gun.
“If they don’t pick up a gun, they could drive a car into a school. We need to try to find the mental health for these individuals,” Republican state Rep. Luke Meerman told AP. “If they’ve had some kind of criminal history, we have to make sure that they’re getting right sentences or that they’re okay to come out of prison.”
The Republican leaders of the Senate, Aric Nesbitt, and the House, Matt Hall, did not answer the AP’s questions, which included whether they planned to support the package.