Michigan State Students Ask Lawmakers About School Shooting Prevention Efforts

A year after the tragic shooting at Michigan State University, students want to know what lawmakers will do to prevent the next school shooting.

Michigan State University students rally at the Michigan Capitol on Feb. 15, 2024. (Anna Liz Nichols/Michigan Advance)

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A year after the tragic shooting that claimed the lives of three students on Michigan State University’s campus, students are still healing and trying to honor everything they lost on Feb. 13, 2023.

But they can’t properly mourn this week, MSU student Saylor Reinders said Thursday at an MSU student rally on the Michigan Capitol steps. As the MSU, Northern Illinois University and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School communities deal with painful anniversaries of shootings at their schools this week, a mass shooting on Wednesday during the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl victory celebration injured more than 20 people, with one death confirmed as of Thursday.

There have been 49 mass shootings in 2024 so far.

“It’s everywhere. It’s all the time. We can’t escape it,” Reinders said from the Michigan Capitol steps. “No words can really describe what the past year has been like, but I can say that despite the anger, sadness, grief, confusion, and just trying to be a college student, we never stopped showing up. I’m proud of the tireless work of students who showed up right here at the Capitol a year ago, and everyday since to demand change.”

And the pressure was on, MSU student and gun violence prevention organizer Maya Manuel said during a talk with Democratic lawmakers after the rally.

Manuel recalled meeting with lawmakers, including state Sen. Sam Singh (D-East Lansing), exactly a year ago, begging for something to be done. Hundreds of students gathered at the Capitol for a rally just two days after the shooting that killed Alexandria Verner, 20; Brian Fraser, 20; and Arielle Anderson, 19 and seriously injured five other students.

To her surprise, lawmakers introduced gun safety bills days later, which went into effect exactly one year after the MSU shooting.

“I remember looking at you, directly in your eyes and saying that the next one is going to be on you,” Manuel said. “And you took that and you went to your colleagues and you pushed out those bills just two days later.”

The new laws, written in response to the MSU shooting, require gun owners to safely store firearms from minors, implement universal background checks when purchasing a firearm, create extreme risk protection orders and expand prohibitions on firearm ownership for those convicted of crimes involving domestic violence.

But more progress is needed to prevent gun violence in Michigan, Manuel said. MSU was not Michigan’s first school shooting and the deadly Oxford High School shooting was only two years ago.

“There’s so much emotion in the words that I told you when I said that I needed you, and I still need you. So what do you think you guys will do moving forward to push for your colleagues to listen?” Manuel asked the few lawmakers that met with MSU students in the Capitol Thursday: Singh, Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks, Rep. Emily Dievendorf (D-Lansing) and Rep. Penelope Tsernoglou (D-East Lansing).

Brinks said the Michigan House’s current 54-54 partisan split due to two Democratic members winning mayoral races last as a hindrance for further action on gun policy was primarily carried by Democratic votes. Special elections are scheduled for April 16.

“We don’t have any Republican members who are willing to vote yes on gun safety,” Brinks said. “There’s a lot of policy left to be done and it can be frustrating to watch from afar. I will also say it’s frustrating to watch up close so we share a lot of your concerns about that and we’ll continue to work.”

Michigan Advance is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Michigan Advance maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Susan J. Demas for questions: info@michiganadvance.com. Follow Michigan Advance on Facebook and Twitter.

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