From the first reports of shots fired on the campus of Michigan State University on Monday evening we’ve seen a lot of rumors and conflicting information surrounding the attack and the suspect, but even before facts emerged it became clear that Democratic lawmakers in the state were going to use the tragedy to push for a gun control “solution” in response.
On Tuesday morning, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer falsely claimed that shootings like this were a uniquely American problem and said the state will act in response, while Democratic lawmakers were quick to seize on the shootings with pledges to ram anti-gun bills through the state legislature.
“Fuck your thoughts and prayers,” Rep. Ranjeev Puri, D-Canton, said in a statement.
“We do not need to live like this,” the first term lawmaker continued. “The United States is the only country where this happens. Where mass shootings have left us desensitized, waking up each day to a seemingly never-ending horrific cycle of gun violence.”
Puri and other Democrats said they won’t waste time introducing legislation aimed at curbing gun violence.
“Our office will continue to work tirelessly to pass common sense gun reform immediately,” Puri said. “We will not stop until our students can attend school without fear, our communities can attend places of worship in peace, and our society is safe from senseless gun violence.”
As we discuss on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, however, it’s unclear what kind of gun control law under consideration in Michigan actually would have prevented the suspects from carrying out his attack.
Michigan State University bans the possession of guns on campus, but that didn’t prevent the 43-year-old suspect from illegally bringing a handgun into multiple buildings and shooting eight people, three of them fatally. And as it turns out, prosecutors previously had a chance to put the suspect behind bars, but ended up offering him a plea deal that allowed him to avoid going to jail on weapons charges.
At about 3 a.m. June 7, 2019, an officer encountered McRae in Lansing where the officer asked him if he had any weapons on him. McRae acknowledged he had a gun but he didn’t have a concealed weapons permit, according to court records. McRae also had a magazine in his right breast pocket, according to the court records.
“He advised the handgun was registered to him,” a court document about the incident said. “He bought it late March at Capital Discount. He was currently trying to obtain a concealed weapons permit.”
In October 2019, Ingham County prosecutors added a second charge against McRae: possession of a loaded firearm in a vehicle, a misdemeanor.
That same month, October 2019, McRae agreed to plead guilty to the lesser misdemeanor charge, and prosecutors dismissed the felony charge.
“We have received numerous requests on this matter and are working to respond to these as accurately and expeditiously as possible under the circumstances,” said Scott Hughes, spokesman for the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday morning.
Instead of prison, the suspect was given twelve months probation; a term that was extended for another six months in October of 2020, apparently so that he could complete the terms of his probation.
At every step of the way, then, the criminal justice system actively avoided delivering any consequences for the suspect’s previous run-in with the law. So what new gun control law would have made a difference? I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot of talk about the need for a “red flag” law in the state, especially with neighbors saying the man had a habit of taking target practice out the back door of his Lansing home.
Paul Rodney Tucker, who lives around the corner from Anthony McRae, said he’d run into McRae more than once at the party store and described him as “wild” and a “hell-raiser.”
“I knew he lived at that house because there was constant trouble there,” he said.
Tucker also heard gunshot target practice from the home last summer and believed police had been called there before.
“I told my dad it was a semi-automatic pistol,” Tucker said of gunshots heard last summer. “Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam. It wasn’t firecrackers.”
Megan and Tyler Bender, who live on the same street as Anthony McRae, said he moved in with his father about a year ago. They said Mike McRae, Anthony’s father, is a scrapper well-known in the neighborhood.
“He’s never done any harm to anyone,” Megan Bender said. “He’s just an old man, minds his business.”
But police had been called to the residence before because of the sound of gunshots, Bender said.
Bender said Anthony McRae would fire out of the back door of the home, she believed for target practice.
Would that have been enough to “red flag” the suspect? I doubt it, especially since it sounds like police never filed charges or took him into custody for illegally discharging his firearm. Still, with an Extreme Risk Protection Order bill already filed at the statehouse, look for the narrative to quickly revolve around the “missed opportunities” to prevent this attack if only a “red flag” law had been in place.
Whitmer has also called for a “universal background check” law and mandatory storage requirements, but we’re likely to see even more bills introduced in the wake of the shootings at MSU. In fact, even before the shootings took place on Monday night some gun control activists were calling on lawmakers to pass bills imposing waiting periods and a “permit-to-purchase” law as well as repealing the state’s Stand Your Ground law; none of which would have stopped the shootings, but all of them likely to get a closer look from anti-gun Democrats in Michigan in the days ahead.