Michigan Senate introduces gun bills following MSU shooting
Michigan Senate Democrats filed a host of gun-related bills Thursday in the wake of a mass shooting at Michigan State University.
The eleven-bill package spanning from SB 76 through SB 86 would require criminal background checks when purchasing a firearm. It would also incentivize people to store their guns safely and punish those who don’t if their firearms fall into the wrong hands.
A third part of the package details so-called “red-flag law” provisions that aim to keep guns out of the hands of anyone deemed a threat to themselves or others.
Senator Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) said students at Michigan State have been demanding action.
“Those students are grieving. They want you to know that they want to be seen. They want to be heard. They don’t want to be lectured, they don’t want to be told what can be done, what can’t be done,” Singh told the state Senate.
Some Republican lawmakers also stepped up to the podium to deliver remarks on Monday’s shooting during session Thursday.
Senator Mike Webber (R-Rochester Hills) offered words of solidarity.
“I share your grief, I share your pain, and I share your anger,” Webber said. “We must resolve to work together in a bipartisan fashion to offer solutions to help resolve this problem. We must take a holistic approach.”
Democratic senators called on Republicans to join in and co-sponsor their bills ahead of filing and introduction.
Many said lawmakers failed the victims of this week’s violence by not acting sooner.
Last legislative session, Senator Rosemary Bayer (D-West Bloomfield) helped introduce a similar bill package after a shooting at Oxford High School in her district.
“It is upon us, specifically us here in this room, she said. "Us, to address this horrible problem. And I’m not talking about thoughts and prayers."
"Not that thoughts and prayers are bad — never hurts — but we need action now,” Bayer said.
In previous sessions, similar legislation has failed to advance under Republican control of the Legislature.
No GOP members signed onto Thursday’s package as a co-sponsor.
In his floor speech, Senator Jim Runestad (R-White Lake) said he’d also like to see the violence end. But he didn’t touch upon the Democratic proposal.
“Our great collective challenge of course is to determine how to stop it. I do believe and hope that a starting point for common ground here in the chamber can be stronger enforcement of our existing laws,” Runestad said.
It's not clear whether stronger enforcement would have averted Monday's shooting. Police said Thursday that when they found the suspected MSU shooter, he was carrying two guns. They said he bought them legally, despite pleading guilty to a previous weapons crime.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has introduced its own school safety package.
Those bills run from HB 4088 through HB 4100 and mainly deal with school mental health support and meeting other recommendations outlined in last year’s School Safety Task Force Final Report.
House Democrats have pledged their own gun legislation, which could come as early as Wednesday.