All Districts — “Disbelief.” That was Chris Glass’ reaction when he heard a shooter had killed four students at his alma mater, Oxford High School.
Fifteen months later, Glass, Kent ISD’s assistant superintendent of legislative and organizational initiatives, followed the realtime developments of an active shooter situation at his college alma mater, Michigan State University. This time, three MSU students were killed and five were wounded.
“As much as I wasn’t at those places, it’s very, very easy as a parent or as someone who’s been in those spaces to put yourself in those places,” Glass said. “And it’s tough to know that communities and universities will never be the same as a result of these tragedies.
“So to me, it’s imperative that our legislature and other stakeholders are evaluating and reflecting on why things happen, what could have prevented it, and what needs to be done in order to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
While it is difficult to determine the number of guns in Michigan, according to a March 3 article in Bridge Magazine, there have been “more than 14 million background checks for new purchases of weapons since 2000 – in a state with 10 million residents. More than one in 10 adults has a permit to carry a concealed handgun.”
Glass said the MSU shooting pushed forward gun bills already introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives and Senate, where Democrats have the majority in both. The three proposals are:
Universal background checks: This would cover all firearms. This was approved by the House March 9.
Safe storage of firearms: This would require gun owners to store and secure their firearms to keep them out of the hands of minors.
Extreme Risk Protection Order Act: This law would allow the courts to temporarily take away guns and licenses from those who may hurt themselves or others.
“At the end of the day, for me, it comes down to not only how do we have safeguards in place to prevent tragedy, but how do we also make sure there’s compassion there and there’s respect for individuals.”— Kent ISD Assistant Superintendent Chris Glass
As a gun owner himself, Glass, who serves as Kent ISD’s liaison to the state government, sees all three bills as “common sense” practices. Several states, such as Colorado, Massachusetts and Oregon, have similar gun reform laws.
“I think, as a society, we’re evolving and we need to make sure that we have laws and we do have services available to meet the needs of an evolving society,” Glass said
Glass said he believes all three bills will pass. Work needs to continue in the other areas including mental health, social media and in general discourse surrounding guns to help prevent future tragedies.
“At the end of the day, for me, it comes down to not only how do we have safeguards in place to prevent tragedy, but how do we also make sure there’s compassion there and there’s respect for individuals?”