LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Democrats on Wednesday pledged to advance new gun control legislation and revive bills stalled in Michigan’s Republican-led legislature after a mass shooting that killed four high school students and others were seriously injured.
But GOP leaders, who have long opposed such measures and supported loosening restrictions, did not immediately commit to a policy change.
“We can’t do anything,” Senator Rosemary Baer, a Democrat whose district includes Oxford High School, told reporters as senators held a moment of silence for the dead. “We have to take action. Right at this moment, today, I think I really, really want to focus on families and … just trying to help them know that we’re here for them, That we are supporting them in any way possible.”
Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer said gun violence is a public health crisis. He called for unspecified “actions” beyond “thoughts and prayers”, but did not elaborate. She has previously supported a measure that would allow judges to order the confiscation 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. Ethan Crumbley, 15, accused in Tuesday’s murder, used a handcuff that had been bought by his father four days earlier.
The bill would require adults to keep the firearm in a securely closed box or container if they know it is accessible to minors. If a minor obtains a gun and uses it to kill or injure, the adult will face up to five years in prison. There will be some exceptions if minors are allowed in activities such as target practice and hunting.
Republicans have not heard the measure or other gun control legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said, “If we become obsessed with eliminating all risk, we will grow and develop into a country that we will not recognize because we will have no freedom.” “It’s a balance. It’s a very narrow road. That’s tough. Events like this take those ideas into account.”
He suggested that there were probably warning signs about the shooter, and he questioned how the teen had access to the gun.
“Things like this are already controlled, but maybe just missing the signals,” Shirkey said.
Democratic-sponsored legislation introduced this season or in previous years has, among other things, exempted firearm safety equipment from state sales tax and expanded universal background checks to all gun sales.
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