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MI Senate committee holds 2nd gun violence hearing

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Testimony from families and students affected by gun violence dominated a Thursday hearing by the Michigan Senate Civil Rights, Judiciary, and Public Safety Committee.

The committee heard three hours of testimony. Much of it was from families and students affected by the Oxford High School and Michigan State University mass shootings.

The committee is considering bills that include safe storage requirements, universal background checks and extreme risk protection orders.

But those measures “are just the beginning to fighting this epidemic,” said high school senior Reina St. Juliana, who lost her sister in the Oxford shooting.

“But if it can save one person’s future, if it can save one person’s family from experience from experiencing this eternal nightmare, it’s worth enacting now,” she said.

Many people showed up to share their personal experiences and frustrations at inaction on gun bills that have languished in previous sessions of the Legislature.

Linda Watson is the mother of a wounded Oxford survivor and also of an MSU student who sheltered during the February 13th mass shooting.

“How could this happen? And then how could it happen again?” she said. “Here we are again taking more steps backwards.”

But Republican Senator Jim Runestad said new gun laws wouldn’t stop many shootings since many existing statutes aren’t enforced.

“So it’s a complex issue,” he said. “We’ll continue with the testimony, but I really believe we need to be focusing also on enforcing the gun laws out there.”

The Senate hearings are expected to continue next week.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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