Dems Renew Push for Gun-Control Bills 12/02 06:19
LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Democrats vowed Wednesday to push new gun-control
legislation and to try to revive stalled bills in Michigan's Republican-led
Legislature following a mass shooting that left four high school students dead
and others with serious injuries.
But GOP leaders, who have long opposed such measures and have favored looser
restrictions, did not immediately commit to policy changes.
"We can't do nothing," Sen. Rosemary Bayer, a Democrat whose district
includes Oxford High School, told reporters after senators held a moment of
silence for the dead. "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
Earlier this year, mass shootings in Georgia and Colorado reignited calls
from gun-control advocates for tighter restrictions on buying firearms and
ammunition. But with Democrats in control of the federal government, gun-rights
advocates have been persuading Republican-run legislatures to go the other way,
and make it easier to obtain and carry guns.
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who opposes relaxing restrictions, said
gun violence is a public health crisis. She called for unspecified "actions"
beyond "thoughts and prayers" but did not elaborate. She has previously backed
a measure that would let judges order the seizure of firearms from people who
pose a significant risk to themselves or others.
In June, Bayer introduced legislation aimed at holding accountable adults
who fail to secure their firearms. The 15-year-old charged in Tuesday's
slayings, Ethan Crumbley, illegally had a handgun that his father had bought
four days earlier, authorities said.
The bill would require adults to keep a firearm in a securely locked
container if they know it is accessible to minors. If a minor obtained the gun
and used it to kill or injure, the adult would face up to five years in prison.
There would be exceptions if minors have permission for activities like target
practice and hunting.
Republicans have not held a hearing on the measure or other gun-control
"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 probably 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.
But Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald, a Democrat whose office
charged Crumbley, called for policy changes without specifying further.
"If the incident yesterday with four children being murdered and multiple
kids being injured is not enough to revisit our gun laws, I don't know what is.
... We need to make sure and want to know that when we send our kids to school,
they're safe. Responsible gun ownership is imperative. It's critical."
Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard, a Republican former legislator whose
office is investigating the shooting, said gun laws are not being utilized and
violators are being allowed to take plea deals.
"I believe the surest way to get a handle on holding people accountable when
they're doing things illegally with a gun is to punish them. That's not
happening in many communities across America today," he 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.
Republican-backed bills would remove the general requirement to obtain a
license to carry a concealed pistol. Rep. Steve Carra, a Three Rivers
Republican running for Congress, said he was drafting legislation to let
teachers and school staff store their personal weapons in lockboxes in case of
One area where lawmakers have found common ground in the past is security
Michigan awarded $50 million in safety grants to schools in 2018 and 2019
following the mass shooting at a Florida high school that claimed 17 lives.
Legislators and Whitmer canceled $10 million in funding planned for 2020 due to
economic declines during the coronavirus pandemic, did not provide funds in
2021 and authorized $10 million for school-safety grants in 2022.
A spending proposal advancing in the House includes $10 million to help
schools cover the cost of school-based law enforcement officers.