Both men in this story have ties to major universities in Michigan. Each broke the law involving handguns and was arrested. One would think that the law is working and criminals are being punished. Unfortunately, sometimes the punishment does not fit the crime.
One of these men lived in Lansing, Michigan, home of the most recent mass shooting in the Mitten State, leaving three students dead and five more hospitalized in critical condition. After a long manhunt, Anthony Dwayne McRae committed suicide within seconds of being confronted by police. He was not a student at Michigan State (MSU) but had previously been arrested on firearm charges. Instead of receiving a felony conviction for a crime he admitted to, he was allowed to plead his case to a misdemeanor. The plea agreement allowed the man to legally purchase more guns after a court-mandated time. With a felony record – even one that ordered no time served – he would have been flagged by the mandatory National Instant Criminal Background System (NICS) when he tried to purchase several new guns. After being lightly sentenced for his firearm crime, the guns he bought were used in his campus rampage.
The other man, Mazi Smith, is from a neighboring university. He plays football for the University of Michigan. Like McRae, this man was arrested after being caught with a concealed firearm and additional ammunition magazines. Just prior to his arrest, Smith had taken a class on Michigan firearm laws and knew full well that carrying the Glock 19 in the front seat of his vehicle was a felony. Smith, an important football team member, agreed to a plea bargain that would allow the football player to continue to play instead of facing the felony charge for the crime he committed.
A felony conviction would have stopped him from legally purchasing a firearm again. Instead, the 21-year-old man was sentenced by a judge under the “youthful criminal act,” which allows the firearm felony he committed to be permanently removed from his record. He is free to purchase more firearms and carry them concealed despite the fact that he chose to ignore major gun laws in the past. The University of Michigan allowed him to continue playing football in their seasonal quest for a national championship.
I can’t say that Smith had or will ever have the urge to use his firearms in anything but self-defense, but the prosecutors and the judge must have had the same doubt about the killer at MSU. Both criminals received something far less than the full force of the law.
Spurred on by the killing spree at Michigan State University, Michigan residents will soon have a handful of new gun laws. The legislature and the governor want to “do something” to stop this senseless gun violence. Not one of the proposed laws, if enacted, would have prevented the mass murder at MSU.
Instead of further burdening law Michigan’s countless law-abiding firearm owners, wouldn’t it make more sense to stop people caught feloniously carrying guns from ever going to a gun store and buying more? That law is already on the books and would have stopped a killer from buying the two new guns he used to kill three beautiful young minds.
When it comes to gun laws, it’s time for legislators to stop “doing something” just for the sake of doing something; It has to be effective. Not one of Michigan’s numerous proposed gun laws would have prevented the MSU killing spree. Stopping admitted felonious gun criminals from being able to buy and carry more guns is an obvious answer to the problem. It’s time for the judicial system to step up and enforce our laws.
Jack Ammerman is a Michigan writer. As a hunter and shooting sports enthusiast, he is involved with education and the safe use of firearms on a daily basis. He supports the right of Americans to own guns for self-defense. He has produced firearm safety television commercials and writes a firearm column for Michigan Out of Doors.