Following the mass shooting at Michigan State University that left three dead and five wounded, Democrats in the state are vowing to pass gun legislation—something that didn’t happen after the 2021 mass shooting at Oxford High School that killed four. While the mass shootings continue, something important has changed: In November, Democrats won full control of state government in Michigan for the first time in nearly four decades.
Weeks before the MSU shooting, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer urged the state legislature to pass new gun legislation in her State of the State address, calling specifically for universal background checks, safe storage laws, and a red flag law that would prevent people deemed dangerous from possessing guns.
RELATED STORY: Three people dead, five wounded in Michigan State University shooting
Democrats were already working on bill addressing those issues, taking time to craft them to be as lawsuit-proof as possible, but are now expected to speed up the process.
“We didn’t throw them at the wall this time because this time we’re going to pass them,” state Sen. Rosemary Bayer said. “We are trying to move along more quickly than planned … but we still want to make sure we’re doing it right.”
It’s not clear if any of the laws under consideration would have stopped Anthony McRae, the alleged shooter, from having guns. In 2019, he took a plea deal on a gun charge, reducing it from a felony to a misdemeanor. But it wouldn’t be hard to find shootings in Michigan that would have been affected if these proposals had been law.
Lawmakers should not hesitate to pass these bills on either policy or politics grounds. It’s the right thing to do, and voters support it: According to a July 2022 poll, universal background checks have 91% support and red flag laws have 67% support … among Republican primary voters. Public pressure has also started building for action in the state following this latest mass shooting:
“We’re all broken by an all-too-familiar feeling — another place that is supposed to be about community and togetherness shattered by bullets and bloodshed,” Whitmer said following the MSU shooting. “We know this is a uniquely American problem.”
It’s time to do something about it.
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