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Oxford school shooting renews debate in Lansing over gun control

A handgun laying on particleboard with 5 bullets nearby.
There’s a renewed debate in the state Legislature over Michigan’s gun laws following the Oxford school shootings.

At the state Capitol Wednesday, the House and the Senate began their sessions with a moment of silence for the Oxford school shooting victims, but no consensus on what more the state can do to make future tragedies less likely.

There are almost 50 gun bills stalled in the Legislature right now. Those include requiring background checks, safe storage, and allowing family members to ask authorities to confiscate firearms if someone poses a risk. Some lawmakers have also called for making it harder for local governments to enact stricter gun ordinances.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, a Republican, said he’s not interested in more gun control measures.

“You know, we enjoy the nation that we live in, and we could, I suppose, spend a lot of time focusing on eliminating every risk that we have because there’s a lot of them. There’s a lot of risks,” he said. “If we get obsessed with eliminating all risks, we will then develop and evolve into a country we won’t recognize.”

Democratic Senator Rosemary Bayer represents the area where the school shootings occurred. And she said there’s plenty the state could do.

“You know, just having background checks, having mental health checks, having safe storage so if a parent buys a gun, so it’s safely stored so a kid can’t get at it, having extreme risk protection orders,” she said.

The Oxford school shooting suspect allegedly used a gun purchased recently by his father.

Bayer said she would like to see fewer people owning firearms.

“I don’t think there’s one single answer for this except get rid of more guns,” she said. “We’ve got too many guns.”

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.