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Michigan gun plan would make schools share safe storage law with parents

Michigan State capitol building in Lansing Michigan in early spring
The House Education Committee on Tuesday heard testimony over bills that would require schools to tell parents about the state’s new safe storage gun law. (iStock photo by liveslow)
  • Michigan proposal would require schools to share with parents information about the state’s new gun safe storage law
  • The law, signed last year, requires adults to keep guns locked if they are in an area accessible to children
  • Parents of students injured or at the 2021 Oxford school shooting testified in support of the new proposal

More than two years after a deadly shooting at Oxford High School, local parents on Tuesday urged Michigan lawmakers to pass legislation that would require schools to tell all parents about the state’s new safe storage gun law. 

“In our minds, this is a simple and easy bill to pass,” said Susan Arthur, the stepmother of a student who was injured in the November 2021 shooting. “It's affordable. It doesn't take much time and it could easily save lives and prevent so much suffering.”


Arthur and other Oxford parents testified before the state House Education Committee, which is considering legislation that would require the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to create a notice about the state’s safe storage law, answers to frequently asked questions about gun storage requirements and guidance on how to get gun locks and gun safes. 


Under a second bill, Michigan schools would be required to distribute the information electronically or by mail to students’ families. 

Michigan’s safe storage law, signed last year by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, requires adults to keep firearms locked or in a lockbox if they are stored or left unattended in an area where a minor is likely to be present. Violators can face at least 93 days in jail, or up to 15 years in prison if a minor obtains a gun that is not properly stored and uses it to kill themselves or others. 

Even without the new law in place, parents of the Oxford shooter were recently convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to between 10 and 15 years in prison. Authorities say the parents bought the gun for their son and failed to curb his access despite warning signs. 

Requiring schools to share information about the new safe storage law will help keep students safe, supporters said Tuesday. 

Ted Verner, the father of a victim in last year’s fatal shooting at Michigan State University, testified in support of the bills. He sits on the Clawson Public Schools board and said his district already has a practice of sharing information about safe gun storage with families.

“It was impactful at the time because it was shortly after my daughter had lost her life, and Clawson rallied around my family and tried to educate people,” Verner said. The information sent by the district “wasn’t pro-gun, it wasn't against gun. It was educating someone that if you have a gun, how to properly store it.” 

The new proposal is sponsored by Democrats, who took control of the Michigan Legislature last year and passed a series of gun reform legislation following the MSU shooting, including the safe storage law, universal background checks and ‘red flag’ protection orders.

Lawmakers also introduced a package of school safety bills after the Oxford shooting but those bills have not advanced far in the Legislature. Arthur, the local parent, recommended lawmakers also require threat assessment policies in every school and continual staff training on those policies. 

Most Republican legislators voted against the safe storage law last year, but none voiced objections Tuesday as the House committee considered – but did not vote on – the proposal to require schools to share information about the law. 

The new safe storage rules “can do so much to prevent accidental child deaths, school shootings and suicides,” said sponsoring Rep. Julie Brixie, D-Okemos. 

“But we're usually not going to know when someone is failing to follow this law until it's too late,” she said. “And that's why it's so important to make sure that parents are aware of these laws.”


Several organizations signaled their support for the bills on Tuesday, including the Michigan Association of Non-Public Schools, the Michigan Catholic Conference and the Michigan Association of School Boards. 

Those who testified Tuesday spoke about the trauma school shootings can have on the individuals shot and the surrounding community. Liz Morley, the mother of two students who were present during the Oxford shooting, said the impact of school violence is “devastating and far reaching.” 

Morley said she takes anti-anxiety medication following the shooting and that she still worries about her twin sons. 

“Our boys say that they're okay,” Morley said. “We hope that that's true. But I guess we won't really know for years to come.”

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