LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – With a new legislative session ahead, state lawmakers are reflecting on measures passed and work yet to be done to help keep schools safe.
It’s been one year since a student opened fire killing four students and hurting seven others at Oxford High School
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said preventing school violence is at the top of their minds.
But both offer different approaches.
Since the Oxford High School shooting, state lawmakers have introduced bills hoping to prevent another tragedy through gun control, mental health support and school upgrades.
State Representative Felicia Brabec helped introduce a bill that would require guns to be locked in a secure location. And bring criminal penalties for owners who fail to do so.
With both the house and senate versions stuck in committee, she said she and fellow democrats aim to push tighter gun control next year.
“There is a desire from some of us to really engage around these issues. And to really offer a smart and reasonable solution for our community and that is what we are going to try and do again,” said Brabec.
She said some lawmakers are looking to tighten background checks and limit the amount of ammunition a person can own.
Brabec said she wants to see a “culture of safety” in schools but hopes that does not lead to measures like arming teachers.
Across the aisle, State Representative Scott Vansingel co-chairs the Michigan House School safety task force, a bipartisan team created after Oxford.
He said while safe storage and background check bills may have some merit, once introduced, they will likely face opposition.
“We need to be careful that we don’t go after law-abiding citizens. I keep my guns safely stored in my house but I also have one readily accessible for valid reasons. I don’t need to go fumbling in my gun safe in the middle of the night,” said Vansingel.
Vansingel said the task force has made strides in proving more funding for school resource officers and mental health services in the recent state budget. But he said tackling school violence is a layered approach involving mental health and school upgrades.
He hopes fellow lawmakers look into improving collaboration between law enforcement and schools as well as code requirements that would make newer schools create blind spots in classrooms to better protect children.