(Source: MIRS.news, Published 02/14/2023) When Anthony McRea was arrested on a gun possession charge in 2019, the Lansing man was given 18 months of probation as opposed to five years in prison, which is the maximum penalty for this type of offense.
What if, instead of letting McRea off so he could collect more guns illegally, he had been sentenced to time behind bars?
"He would still be in prison today," said Rep. Phil Green (R-Millington), a gun rights defender and the father of a son who's away at college.
The question of prosecuting gun crimes is getting a fresh look the day after the self-described "hermit" shot eight Michigan State University students, killing at least three. The other five are in critical condition. Former Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Simeon instituted a policy in 2021 to not prosecute felony firearms charges due to the high number of Black defendants who ended up serving time for this particular crime.
This policy was not in place when McRea was caught with his illegal firearm, but Green's point is that not penalizing people for having guns who shouldn't have guns makes more sense than getting rid of the gun.
A law enforcement officer for 26 years of his professional career, Rep. Mike HARRIS (R-Clarkston) conceded that jurisdictions vary when it comes to allowing first-time felony defendants to plead down. However, even if McRae was still under the eye of a parole agent, it's doubtful he would have had guns in his possession.
"Being soft on crime is not something that helps a community," Harris said. "We need to focus on truth in sentencing and hold people accountable for criminal activities, especially for weapons violations."
Attorney General Dana Nessel stepped into the discussion Tuesday when she re-tweeted a September 2022 Lansing State Journal story about the East Lansing City Council voting to urge Nessel to drop criminal charges against an armed, ski-masked Black shoplifter suspect who was shot while fleeing from police.
Her comment above the story read, "Does the East Lansing City Council and Mayor still want me to dismiss this case? Or is it OK for my department to treat gun cases seriously now? Please advise."
Former Rep. Beau LaFave, a long-standing social media critic of the Attorney General, was among those to respond to the tweet with the comment, "This tweet is fire."
While Monday's shooting hit close to home, Republicans aren't changing their talking points that mass shootings are a deeper statement about our modern society than gun access. Since the founding of the country, access to guns hasn't loosened. If anything, it's gotten tighter, and yet the number of gun tragedies is on the rise.
"Behavioral health and the two-year lockdown due to COVID has stressed people of all ages," said U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) on Michigan's Big Show Starring Michael Patrick Shiels.
Pushing back on the charge that gun violence is a uniquely American problem, Bergman added, "People are people whether they are here in the U.S or South America or Africa or Europe, Asia, wherever. What's unique to America is that we have the ability to help people get through tough times without blaming one thing."
Green pointed out that turning a blind eye to violence in the name of racism, or for whatever reason, doesn't make it go away. He noted that at East Lansing High School, students walked out of school over violence.
"The school wouldn't discipline anybody and now it's our fault for not doing our jobs? No, it's an inanimate object's fault."
MIRS asked Green if Americans are infatuated with guns.
"I think we are infatuated with the reality that the government is not our friend. That we must defend ourselves. Individual responsibility. We are infatuated with the idea that we know what is best for us, not some bureaucrat in some faraway city."