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Bridge Michigan
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Oxford shooting: Dems push gun safety; top Republican frets for ‘freedoms’

Sen. Rosemary Bayer, D-Beverly Hills, along with her Democratic colleagues, hold a minute of silence Wednesday for the victims of the Oxford High School shooting. (Screenshot)

Dec. 9: After Oxford shooting, Michigan Dems seek to bar high-capacity magazine sales

LANSING— Sen. Rosemary Bayer’s phone has not stopped ringing since Tuesday afternoon.

There have been many calls and text messages from members of the Oxford community, including from two students at Oxford High School who texted her from school.

“Both of them said the same thing: ‘We're safe,’” Bayer, a Democrat whose district includes Oxford, told Bridge Michigan Wednesday.

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“(It) was surprising and really, really hard and thoughtful of them to do that knowing we'd be worried.”

Minutes before the texts and calls on Tuesday, a 15-year-old sophomore at the 1,800-student high school opened fire with a semi-automatic handgun inside the school. 

The rampage killed four teens: Hana St. Juliana, 14; Tate Myre, 16; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; and Justin Shilling, 17. 

At least six other students were shot. Their conditions range from stable to critical. A teacher who was also injured with a grazing gunshot wound on her shoulder was discharged from the hospital.

Bayer, who is the sponsor of three gun safety measures in the Michigan Legislature, told her colleagues from the Senate floor Wednesday that she kept thinking about what if it were her daughter in that school. 

“I hurt,” Bayer said. “I physically hurt everywhere right now."

Tuesday’s shooting has, once again, reignited calls for the Legislature to pass gun safety measures. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, didn’t offer specific proposals on a video posted to Twitter, but said Michigan needed to “lift” the spirits of those in Oxford “through our actions, not only our thoughts and prayers."

According to the Oakland County Sheriff's Office, the alleged shooter used a firearm that was bought by his dad on Friday.

In Michigan, a person under the age of 18 is prohibited to be in possession of a gun in public unless they are under direct supervision of an adult who is over 18.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen MacDonald said her office was weighing whether to charge the parents of the alleged shooter.  

During a press conference in which she read the charges against the alleged shooter, MacDonald said that “if the incident yesterday with four children being murdered and multiple kids being injured is not enough to revisit our gun laws, I don't know what is.”

She talked about the importance of securing guns and locking them properly.

This year alone, Michigan legislators introduced 50 firearm-related bills. 

One of them, SB550, would require gun owners to properly secure the firearms to prevent minors from accessing them. The measure would create penalties for failing to secure the firearms. 

But that measure, along with the other 49 bills, has not gone anywhere. 

And, with a Republican majority in the legislature, it’s unlikely that any of the gun safety issues will move forward. 

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, was asked by Bridge Wednesday what the legislature can do to support the community of Oxford. He said “give them space.”

When asked if there was anything the legislature could do to move beyond thoughts and prayers, Shirkey said it was a “balance.”

“If we get obsessed with eliminating all risks, we will then develop and evolve into a country we won’t recognize, because we'll also have no freedoms,” Shirkey said. “It's a very narrow road, and it's hard.”

Shirkey speculated that there might've been some warning signs prior to the shooting that needed to be looked at. He also mentioned the question of how the alleged shooter had access to the semi-automatic handgun.

In the meantime, Bayer and other Democrats have pledged to keep pushing for gun safety.

“It’s too early today, but it might not be too early tomorrow,” Bayer said. “I'm going to get a little bit louder.”

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