By Laina G. Stebbings, Michigan Advance
One day after the Michigan House passed a resolution memorializing three victims killed at Michigan State University on Monday, while grieving peers watched from seats in the gallery above, the Senate on Thursday heard eight speeches expressing similar sentiments before introducing several bills to address firearm control.
On Monday night, a shooter opened fire in two MSU buildings. Three MSU students were killed — Arielle Anderson, a junior from Grosse Pointe; Brian Fraser; a sophomore from Grosse Pointe; and Alexandria Verner, a junior from Clawson — while five more were critically injured.
Students and activists have since made it clear that with Democrats now in charge of both chambers of the Michigan Legislature, they expect swift action to clamp down on gun laws in the fallout of the shooting.
The firearm-related bills introduced by Senate Democrats on Thursday include:
- SB 76 to require a license or background check for the purchase of firearms;
- SB 77 to broaden certain language about firearms in the state’s penal code;
- SB 78 to update firearms references in sentencing guidelines;
- SB 79 to provide for penalties for storing or leaving a firearm where it may be accessed by a minor;
- SB 80 to update sentencing guidelines for weapons;
- SB 81 to exempt firearm safety devices like safes, lock boxes and trigger and barrel locks from the sales tax;
- SB 82 to exempt the same devices from the use tax;
- SB 83 to enact an extreme risk protection order act (also known as a “red flag” law);
- SB 84 to prohibit the purchase of firearms if an individual has an extreme risk protection order;
- SB 85 to enact sentencing guidelines for making false statements in relation to an order; and
- SB 86 to deal with court fees and service of process for extreme risk protection order actions.
None of the firearm-related bills so far have any Republican co-sponsors. Democrats have been seeking to advance versions of the bills for years, but have not been able to under previous GOP leadership.
State Sen. Sam Singh (D-East Lansing), who has lived in the city that houses MSU for 34 years, said he has been speaking with students who want to see change rather than empty words.
“Those students are grieving. … They want to be seen, they want to be heard,” Singh said.
He said that in the coming weeks, gun reform bills will see action in the Legislature that are “bipartisan in nature,” and have been implemented in Republican-led states like Florida and Indiana.
“We will mourn. We will heal. And we will act. And I hope that we can all do that together,” Singh said.
Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids), along with state Sens. Rosemary Bayer (D-Beverly Hills), Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Twp.), Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) and Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) also paid tribute to the deceased in floor speeches and said they are ready to get to work on gun restriction legislation.
“‘Thoughts and prayers, never again. End gun violence before another child is shot.’ We’ve said those things, we’ve heard those things. And yet here we are again. Here we are, again, more lives lost — right here in our yard, right here at Michigan State,” Bayer said.
State Sens. Michael Webber (R-Rochester Hills) and Jim Runestad (R-White Lake) also spoke in support of the amendment to celebrate the lives of those lost and urge bipartisan solutions.
“I share your pain, and I share your anger for the irreversible physical and mental damage inflicted by an evil man and for the inability of our state and nation to stop this senseless violence,” Webber said. “ … We must resolve to work together in a bipartisan fashion to offer solutions to help solve this problem.
The shooter had two 9mm handguns on his person as well as additional magazines when he was located by law enforcement. When confronted, police say he fatally shot himself.
The firearms were purchased legally but not registered.
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