School shooting survivors applaud as gun reform legislation — including 'red flag law' — approved in the Michigan Senate

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LANSING (WWJ) -- Survivors of last year's deadly school shooting in Oakland County are applauding the Michigan Senate, which has approved legislation to reform basic gun laws in the state.

The package of bills — which was approved largely along party-line votes on Thursday — consist of safe storage laws, extreme risk protection orders (aka the "red flag law"), and universal background checks — including for long guns.

This action comes just one month after the deadly mass shooting at Michigan State University, and 15 months after the deadly mass shooting at Oxford High School.

Senator Rosemary Bayer, a Democratic from Oakland County's Beverly Hills, argued the legislation will help reduce gun-related deaths in Michigan.

"These bills do make a difference in other states; these bills do reduce violence in other states," Bayer said. "And this is a U.S.-only problem, this gun thing that's happening here. Countries, whole countries, don't see anything like this going on, and it's because they regulate firearms."

While polls have down public support on both side of the aisle for these measures, Michigan Republicans have withheld their votes.

GOP Senator Ed McBroom, representing residents of the Upper Peninsula, said he has some issues with these new laws.

"Everyone agrees that guns should be stored safely. Everyone agrees background checks should be effective and prevent criminals from possessing firearms. Everyone agrees people suffering a mental health crisis should not possess firearms during that crisis," McBroom said. "The opposition today is not against concepts; it's about certain details and implementation."

Senator Joseph Bellino, a Republican from Monroe, said that after the recent tragedies at MSU and Oxford, he understands the desire to do something, but argued that "passing more laws just to say you did something is terrible policy."

In supporting this package, McBroom said, lawmakers are missing a genuine opportunity to pass something better, while other Republicans argue that current gun laws just need to be better enforced.

Among those applauding the passage by the Senate is the group No Future Without Today, which was created and is led by survivors of the November, 2021 mass shooting at Oxford High School.

"Thanks to the tireless efforts of gun-sense legislators, student survivors, and advocates all across the state, we are finally starting to build a safer Michigan," NFWT said, in a statement. "Though we recognize this victory here at No Future Without Today, we also know that there is much more work to be done, and we will continue to advocate for the necessary changes we need in order for Michiganders to feel safe again."

The group's co-founder and executive director, Dylan Morris, said this action in Lansing was long overdue.

“After the shooting at my high school, students and parents begged the politicians in Lansing to act, but they refused. Today is different. Today is historic. Our Senators worked hand-in-hand with students and advocates to pass these bills that will save countless lives," he said.

The package of bills now goes to the state House for consideration. The earliest they could be voted on is next Tuesday. If they pass the House and are signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, as they are expected to be, the new laws would take effect in early 2024.

The most recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that in 2020, Michigan saw 1,454 people die as a result of firearms.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images