Michigan Democrats renewed calls for new gun control legislation after a shooting at Oxford High School on Tuesday killed four students and injured several others.
The Democrats battle a Republican-led Legislature to try to push stalled bills regarding gun control forward. The Republican leaders have yet to pledge any changes to legislation.
“We can’t do nothing,” Senator Rosemary Bayer, a Democrat who represents the district Oxford High School is located, said to reporters after senators had a moment of silence for those killed in the shooting. “We have to take action. Right this minute, today, I think I really, really want to focus on the families and…just trying to help them know that we’re here for them, that we’re supporting them in any way we can.”
Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer called gun violence a public health crisis, saying there needs to be “actions” beyond “thoughts and prayers,” but didn’t detail and specifics, the Associated Press reported. Whitmer supported a measure in the past that would allow judges to order firearms be taken away from individuals who are a high risk to themselves or others.
Bayer presented a measure in June that would hold adults liable for failing to secure their firearms. Ethan Crumbley, the 15-year-old suspect charged in the school shooting, had used a handgun his father purchased four days before Tuesday.
Adults would have to store firearms in locked boxes or containers if they can be accessed by minors if the bill passes. If a minor was able to get the gun and use it to hurt or kill someone, the adult could be sentenced to up to five years in prison. If a minor has permission to use the firearm for target practice, hunting, and such, an exception would be made.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
Republicans have not held a hearing on the measure or other gun-control legislation.
“If we get obsessed with eliminating all risks, we will then develop and evolve into a country we won’t recognize because we’ll also have no freedoms,” Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said. “It’s a balance. It’s a very narrow road. It is hard. These kind of events keep those thoughts in mind.”
He suggested there probable had been warning signs about the shooter, and he questioned how the teen accessed the gun.
“Those kinds of things are already controllable but for maybe just missing the signs,” Shirkey said.
Democratic-sponsored legislation introduced this session or in past years would, among other things, exempt firearm safety devices from the state’s sales tax and expand universal background checks to all gun sales.