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Stabenow, Peters say federal gun safety reforms needed after MSU shooting

Michigan’s U.S. Senate delegation is calling for stricter gun laws at the federal level, including a possible implementation of red flag laws and universal background checks, following a mass shooting at Michigan State University.

A lone gunman opened fire on campus late Feb. 13, killing Arielle AndersonBrian Fraser and Alexandria Verner while critically wounding five others in the process.

“The choice is ours to make: We can honor these young adults by making change, or we can play politics and let this cycle continue,” said U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township. “But for Arielle, Alex and Brian – and for the students at staff at Michigan State – and for every family that has been torn apart by gun violence, we must choose to act.”

Both he and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, are graduates of the university.

In separate floor speeches Thursday, March 2, each honored the lives of Verner, Fraser and Anderson while imploring their colleagues to act on reforming federal gun laws to prevent another tragedy of this nature from happening.

Stabenow, while praising community efforts to help students and staff at the university, said addressing mental health supports would not go far enough unless supplemented by gun reform.

“We need to make it harder for people who harm others to get their hands on guns,” she said, because it’s one thing to be someone who is unstable and has a knife. “It’s another thing if you have a gun. The consequences are very different depending on what you’re holding in your hand.”

Peters pointed to federal red flag laws, expanding federal background checks for all gun sales and enacting “reasonable limits on high capacity magazines” as where to begin with reforming nationwide gun laws.

Stabenow, similarly, mentioned not just red flag laws and universal background checks, but also safe storage requirements as necessary step in the effort to curb gun deaths in the United States.

All three are already efforts the Michigan’s state legislature are undertaking, a point which Stabenow was quick to applaud.

“I strongly support their efforts,” she said. “I’m grateful as a citizen, as a mom, as a grandmother, whose children are in those schools that they are taking these actions. ... but we need to do so much more.”

More, to Stabenow, was passing a military assault weapons ban while closing the “gun show loophole” – or requiring the private sellers of firearms to also conduct a background check of the buyer – telling her colleagues, “It’s just common sense.”

Both she and Peters noted that while Congress did come together in 2022 to pass the bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which has since been signed into law, Peters added that it was “clear this law did not go far enough.”

“We owe it to Ariel, Brian and Alex, and the whole mental health community. To those who have been impacted across the country,” Stabenow said. “These stories are way too common and should be absolutely unacceptable to everybody. Thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s pretty hollow.”