Michigan State University Revisits Campus Mass Shooting Tragedy on Anniversary as New Gun Regulations Take Effect

EAST LANSING, Mich. – As the first anniversary of the tragic mass shooting at Michigan State University approaches, Professor Marco Díaz-Muñoz reflects on the painful memories that continue to haunt him. A year ago, a gunman entered his classroom, taking the lives of two students and leaving others critically injured. Díaz-Muñoz anticipates a wave of emotions as he prepares to teach the exact same lecture and lesson that were interrupted by the horrific event. On February 13, 2023, the East Lansing campus was terrorized for nearly four hours, claiming the lives of three students – Brian Fraser, Arielle Anderson, and Alexandria Verner. In remembrance, a gathering has been arranged for the victims.

The approaching anniversary also coincides with the implementation of Michigan’s comprehensive gun regulations. From now on, all gun purchases in the state will require background checks, and gun owners must ensure that firearms and ammunition are safely stored in the presence of minors. Additionally, Michigan has adopted red flag laws, permitting family members, police, mental health professionals, roommates, and former dating partners to petition a judge for the removal of firearms from individuals considered to be an imminent threat to themselves or others.

These new laws emerged as part of a broader gun safety package that gained traction following the tragedy at MSU and the 2021 Oxford High School shooting, which claimed four lives. In a groundbreaking development, the shooter’s mother was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, marking the first instance in the United States where a parent has been held responsible for their child perpetrating a mass school shooting.

The democrat-controlled House and Senate, secured in the 2022 midterm elections, drove the progress of these gun safety measures. State Sen. Rosemary Bayer, a prominent advocate for gun control who represents Oxford, revealed that plans to push for tighter laws were accelerated in light of the tragedy at MSU. Reflecting on the legislative process, Bayer explained how the majority win emboldened their efforts, leading to the swift passage of safe storage requirements and background checks a couple of months after the shooting.

However, the red flag law encountered more resistance and was ultimately signed by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer just over a month later. This expanded legislation was soon followed by a measure prohibiting individuals with domestic violence convictions, even misdemeanors, from possessing firearms for at least eight years.

While progress has been made, many remain skeptical about the effectiveness of these new laws. The implementation of red flag laws and their utilization in preventing gun violence has been limited. Despite being hailed as a powerful tool, an Associated Press analysis found that these laws are rarely invoked in the states where they exist. The removal of firearms due to red flag laws was less than 10 per 100,000 adult residents, leading to doubts about their ability to significantly reduce the death toll.

Professor Díaz-Muñoz acknowledges that the legislation is just the beginning, emphasizing the need to address the underlying issues that contribute to the prevalence of gun violence. He believes that until these deeper problems are confronted, no amount of gun laws can completely prevent such senseless acts or significantly minimize their occurrence.

Gun control advocates at MSU are determined to keep pressing for change. Their next step is to meet with lawmakers and stage a sit-in at the Capitol on Thursday, demanding continued action on gun violence prevention. Some Democrats have expressed their openness to go even further, including banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. However, due to temporary deadlock in the state House resulting from the resignation of two Democratic representatives, these measures may have to wait until after April.

Concerns surrounding the successful implementation of the new laws persist as local pushback has been observed in a state with a deeply ingrained gun-owning culture. Over half of Michigan’s counties have proclaimed themselves Second Amendment “sanctuaries,” opposing what they perceive as laws infringing on their gun rights. The road ahead remains uncertain, but the anniversary of the MSU shooting serves as a reminder of the urgent need for change.