Democrats renew pressure on gun control law after school shooting in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (AP) – Democrats on Wednesday vowed to push for new gun control legislation and revive blocked bills in Michigan’s Republican-led legislature after 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 advocated for looser restrictions, did not immediately commit to political change.

“We can do nothing,” Senator Rosemary Bayer, a Democrat whose district includes Oxford High School, told reporters after senators observed a moment of silence for the dead. “We have to act. Right now, today, I think I really, really want to focus on the families and … just try to help them know that we’re here for them, that we support 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 supported a measure that would allow judges to order the seizure of firearms from persons who pose a significant risk to themselves or others.

In June, Bayer introduced legislation aimed at holding adults accountable for failing to secure their firearms. The 15-year-old charged with Tuesday’s murder, Ethan Crumbley, used a gun his father had purchased four days earlier.

The bill would require adults to store a firearm in a securely locked box or container if they know it is accessible to minors. If a minor got the gun and used it to kill or injure, the adult risks up to five years in prison. There will be exceptions if minors have permission for activities such as shooting practice and hunting.

Republicans have not held a hearing on the measure or other gun control legislation.

“If we become obsessed with eliminating all risks, then we will develop and evolve into a country we will not recognize because we also do not want any freedoms,” said Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey. “It’s a balance. It’s a very narrow path. It’s difficult. That kind of event keeps those thoughts in mind.”

He suggested that there had probably been warning signs about the shooter, and he asked how the teenager gained access to the gun.

“That kind of thing is already controllable, but to maybe just lack the characters,” Shirkey said.

Democratic-sponsored legislation introduced this session or in previous years would, among other things, exempt firearms security devices from the state sales tax and extend universal background checks to all arms sales.

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