LANSING, Mich. (AP) – Democrats vowed Wednesday to push new gun-control legislation and 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 we can.”
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer 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, used a handgun that his father had bought four days earlier.
The bill would require adults to keep a firearm in a securely locked box or 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 such as target practice and hunting.
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 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.
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.
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