Michigan State shooting symptomatic of broader issue

The shooting came on the eve of the five-year anniversary of the Parkland High School mass shooting.

A mass shooting occurred on the main campus of Michigan State University on Feb 13, 2023 in East Lansing, MI. The shooter claimed three lives and injured five others.

Beginning around 8:18 p.m., calls were placed relating to the shooting taking place on campus. Two alert systems are utilized by the university — MSU Alert System and MSU Emergency Operations Center — and were activated quickly following these calls. Immediately following this, police officers from across the state responded to campus to locate and apprehend the suspect.

Chris Rozman, the interim deputy chief of the university’s police department said, “We have no idea why he came to campus,” when speaking of the shooter, who was identified as 43-year-old Anthony Dwayne McRae.

After the initial calls came into local police and emergency service channels, McRae opened fire in an academic building and the student union on campus. He was neither a student nor an employee at MSU. After fleeing campus, McRae was caught in an industrial site and cornered by police officers, where he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

To those that lost their lives in the MSU shooting, thousands of flowers, signs and candles were laid across the MSU campus.

McRae was previously accused of illegal possession of a concealed weapon and pleaded guilty to having a loaded firearm in a vehicle, which is a misdemeanor in the state of Michigan. He completed 18 months of probation for this offense.

McRae took a plea deal in 2019 for carrying a concealed weapon, and a probationary period was sentenced instead of a felony. If the felony would have been put on his record, he would have been prevented from purchasing firearms legally.

For some students attending MSU, this was not the first mass shooting they have experienced. One student who was interviewed recalled her surprise at finding herself in the same scenario ten years later. A survivor of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, Jacqueline Matthews, a 21-year-old international law major, found herself in yet another shooting and decided to take a stand on her experience. She has called for legislative action to be taken.

Another student, who remained unnamed in reports, survived the Nov. 2021 shooting that took place at Oxford High School in Southeastern Michigan. The student’s mother recalled her daughter’s anguish after the shooting, saying, “My daughter is traumatized anew.”
McRae reportedly had no motive. No note was left behind detailing any semblance of explanation as to why he took these lives and injured more. McRae’s father, Michael McRae, detailed how his son was always a “momma’s boy,” and how he turned bitter and angry after her death two years ago. Michael also recalled how McRae had a firearm several years ago, but it was taken by the police. Michael suspected that McRae had another firearm, but could not confirm or deny this, as his son would refuse to talk to him about it.

Thousands of people have died in mass shootings in 2023. The number of mass shootings per year is on the rise. The United States leads the world in guns per person, has the highest percentage of gun-related killings in homicides and has gun-rights groups spending higher than gun-control groups. Access to firearms in most states across the country has never been easier.

Specific proposals such as Michigan’s red flag proposal would allow police, family or roommates to petition a judge to seize a person’s firearms if they can be deemed a risk. This law would allow the public to temporarily remove a firearm or firearms from someone who can be seen as unfit to currently be in possession of them. This revolutionary law could reduce risks in communities or to the person themselves, as it would lower the risk of self-inflicted gunshot wounds as well.

Policies like these are not blanket statements of protection for those who need or should have their firearms removed for the safety of those around them, but it does chip away at the problem of gun violence. Steps like these are a move in the right direction and can reduce instances of gun violence, whether that violence is self-inflicted or aimed toward others.

Gun violence in America has claimed more than 6000 lives in 2023 so far. A lack of required training in some states only creates a larger issue. With minimal training, the potential for firearm-related accidents increases. Without proper monitoring, training and utilization of firearms, incidents will increase. Flooding the classrooms of schools with firearms will claim more lives, not save them.

Post Author: Alex Soeder