GV students react to new MI gun reform legislation


GVL / Elizabeth Schanz

Payton Brazzil, Staff Writer

The Michigan Senate recently voted to pass an 11-bill gun safety package that would require safe firearm storage, universal background checks and new risk protection orders.

Senators approved a majority of the package on a 20-17 party line vote and it will be passed along to the Democratic-led House as early as next week. Governor Gretchen Whitmer said she plans to sign the legislation, according to her fifth State of the State speech in January. 

None of the packages were granted immediate effect and, if the House should approve, won’t become law until early 2024. 

The bills were proposed following the shooting at Michigan State University in February that left three students dead and five others injured. This was the second mass shooting the state faced over the past year and a half following the shooting at Oxford High School in November 2021. 

GVSU student and Oxford High School graduate Josie Hoffman said she believes the new gun safety package is a necessary step in the right direction. 

“As someone whose family has been personally affected by two mass shootings, these gun laws are a first step towards reducing the problem of gun violence in America and safe gun owners will not be impacted by these laws,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman said many of the issues the new bill covers are important steps in working towards gun safety. For instance, the current Michigan law only requires a background check for individuals who are purchasing a handgun, however, people can buy a rifle without a background check. 

“Anything is better than nothing, in my mind, it makes me feel safer because it’s closing loopholes and making it harder for people who shouldn’t have guns to have less access to guns,” Hoffman said. 

The new bill package also includes additional safety measures like the safe firearm storage bill that would mandate a person to keep an unloaded firearm in a locked storage box or container in front of minors. 

“In the case of the Oxford shooting, if these laws were enacted and upheld, then it might have prevented the shooting because the kid had unlimited access to a gun when he was 14 and his parents would have absolutely been violating these new laws,” Hoffman said.

The parents of the Oxford High School shooter, Ethan Crumbley, are currently charged with four counts each of involuntary manslaughter due to their negligence with guns in the house.  

Unlike Hoffman, Vice Chair of GVSU College Republicans Zachary Schmidt believes that the gun safety package could not have prevented the mass shootings at Oxford or MSU, but harsher prosecution for those who do break gun laws. 

“We should be focused on prosecuting the current laws we have on the books, which could have and would have stopped the MSU shooting, instead of piling more gun laws on top of the ones we already have, merely for the political optics,” Schmidt said. “Prosecutors should harshly prosecute those who break our current gun laws and that’s what the focus should be at the prosecutorial level.” 

Schmidt said he doesn’t think the legislation has much of an impact on gun safety in Michigan.

The parents of the Oxford shooter are being charged and prosecuted with a crime currently,” Schmidt said. “I do not understand how adding another law, on top of the laws we already have, for irresponsible and reckless people to break will prevent future tragic events.” 

Public support for community safety has been widespread. For instance, GVSU held a candlelit vigil on the Allendale campus following the MSU shooting. Many students, like Hoffman, have experienced the fear of having someone close to them being in danger because of gun violence. 

“My brother is a survivor of both the Oxford High School shooting and the MSU shooting, and this proposed legislation and other bills in the future will hopefully not only help reduce gun violence, but will also give survivors peace of mind so they can feel safe at school, which is somewhere they should already be safe,” Hoffman said.