Next up on gun control? More losses for Republicans

Michigan State University students at the Michigan Capitol building demanding change to gun laws.
Michigan State University students at the Michigan Capitol building demanding change to gun laws.
Todd Heywood/City Pulse

As the Democratic-controlled Legislature puts the final touches on Michigan’s soon-to-be new “red flag” law, the natural question for those sick and tired of the country’s trend of mass shootings is, “What’s next?”

Thanks to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Legislature, starting next year gun owners will face criminal charges for not locking up their firearms when there are kids around. They’ll also need a background check before purchasing a gun — a pistol, a rifle, an AR-15, whatever.

Next up is the aforementioned “red flag” law, or “extreme risk protection order,” that allows friends or relatives to alert the authorities when they fear a loved one is a threat to oneself or others. Upon looking into the situation, a judge can order police to remove a person’s firearms.

The polling on all three of these measures is off-the-charts good. Polling on the measures that lawmakers are interested in doing next is good, too.

We’re talking about banning anyone with a domestic violence conviction from owning a firearm. The Detroit News found that a lifetime ban is supported by 65% of voters and 75% of women.

Putting capacity limits on magazines has 60% support, according to the poll. 

Opening up gun manufacturers and gun sellers to liability for cases in which a gun they illegally sold causes death or injury has 67% support, according to an Impact Research survey question for Giffords.

Increasing funding for community violence intervention programs? That polls at 76%.

All of these concepts are being talked about by lawmakers — Democratic lawmakers. Republican lawmakers are voting no as a block.

Politically, the issue is another tough one for them. Once again, they’re forced to die on another hill of an uncompromising interest group and passionate constituents who refuse to give an inch in the gun debate.

Remember late summer 2022? The R’s blew an opportunity to pass their own limited abortion legalization bill by rolling the dice on stopping what became Proposal 3, which every poll showed would win.

This time, the R’s are standing shoulder to shoulder with the National Rifle Association, another strident interest group. 

But this time, the polling is even worse. The numbers may not be terrible in some of their districts, but statewide, they aren’t great. If the Republicans are comfortable hanging out in the minority after 2024, I guess that’s not a problem.

If the Republicans want to regain seats, carrying the water primarily for people with the Second Amendment tattooed to their chests probably isn’t the best plan.

Not with mass shootings making the headlines. Every. Single. Week.

There have been 33 shootings from April 1 to April 17 alone. You may have heard about the mass shooting in Alabama at a teenager’s “Sweet 16 party” because four were killed and 32 injured.

How about the April 13 shooting off Penrod Street in Detroit that injured five people, including three 14-year-olds?

It’s gotten to the point where gun violence has become the No. 1 killer of teenagers in the country, and it’s not slowing down. The numbers collected by the Gun Violence Archive show it’s worse.

In 2021, 1,390 kids were killed by a firearm in this country. In 2022, it was 1,575. Last year, it was 1,682.

The numbers aren’t working for Republicans on so many levels. 

Groveling for a watered-down version of one of the upcoming bills in exchange for their votes could be a start. They can later take credit for something.

Ignoring the depth and breadth of this as a political issue is a grave mistake, though. 

The Michigan State University shooting thrust gun safety back into a front-of-mind issue that has parents, students, independents and even a majority of Republicans and gun owners super agitated and antsy.

They want changes now.

It’s not clear what the Republicans’ plan out of this is at this point. 

What is clear is that opposing every single gun reform measure — with shooting after shooting after shooting making the headlines — isn’t a good place to be.


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