Froma Harrop: Politics and the Michigan mass shooting

From the commentary: We've been here before: shocked calls for an even modest tightening of gun laws and Republicans killing almost all efforts to do so.

Current and former students from Michigan State University and their supporters attend a rally outside of the state Capitol Building on Feb. 15, 2023 in Lansing, Mich.
Current and former students from Michigan State University and their supporters attend a rally outside of the state Capitol Building on Feb. 15, 2023 in Lansing, Mich.
(Scott Olson/Getty Images/TNS)

And so some angry, mentally ill person decides to shoot random human beings for no particular reason. Although mass killings have become commonplace — the one at Michigan State University was the 67th this year, and we're only in February — something feels different this time.

Froma Harrop Commentary
Tribune graphic
More Froma Harrop
Summary: Demand for gasoline keeps rising. But so apparently is demand for space on the roads. Moan about high gas prices, if you must. The traffic doesn't seem to have noticed.
Summary: If the activist left succeeded in portraying itself as the heart and soul of the Democratic Party, the fault lies in much of the political media. Rather than sending Democrats a message, California has sent the media a message on where Democrats really stand on crime. ... Guess what? They don't like it.
Summary: Had Cuellar lost to Cisneros in the Texas primary, the results would not have been a new lefty in Congress but another Democratic seat lost to a Republican. Smart progressives know that real power comes from supporting candidates, who, even if not their ideal, can get elected.
Summary: OK. We don't really know whether big movies with a touch of IQ will bring in audiences the theaters need. Let's just say the coming attractions were doing their bit. "Jurassic World: Dominion," here we come.

It's not the number of victims, three dead in this case. The 2017 attack in Las Vegas massacred 60 and wounded over 400. Nor was it the nature of the victims. These were young people with a future but not elementary school kids, 20 of whom were mowed down in Newtown, Connecticut — 19 in Uvalde, Texas.

This one has political ramifications. It occurred in Michigan, a Midwest state that last November reelected its Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, and turned control of both the state Senate and House to Democrats.

One must believe that right-wing threats of gun violence moved a lot of voters to change teams in Lansing. There was the unforgettable visual of creeps waving semi-automatics on the steps of the state Capitol over one of the governor's COVID policies. Then there were the head cases shooting off their guns in the woods as they plotted to kidnap Whitmer.

Especially chilling about the outrage at Michigan State was the alert sent by campus security to "run, hide or fight." The horror grew more intense with news that some of the college students had already survived the terror of the 2021 Oxford High School shooting in which four students died. In sum, there are 20-year-old kids who have sheltered in place for two separate mass school shootings.


The Michigan State killings took place on the five-year anniversary of the Parkland, Florida, massacre that left 17 students dead. As tearful commemorations were held, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was campaigning as the most gun-loving Republican evidently vying to become the Republican candidate for president. He's pushing legislation to let Florida residents carry concealed firearms in public without a permit, never mind training.

The Michigan State gunman was arrested in 2019 for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit and had to forfeit the gun. DeSantis apparently doesn't want to inconvenience killers like him by requiring a permit.

Florida gun deaths have risen nearly 19% from 2015 to 2020. In 2020, 13.7 Floridians out of every 100,000 died from gun violence. By contrast, the number of gun deaths per 100,000 was only 5.3 in New York. Hawaii posted the lowest and best number, 3.4.

How many times have we heard that the vast majority of Americans, most Republicans included, want at least universal background checks for all purchases? They want red-flag laws to remove guns from those deemed to be a danger to themselves or others. And majorities want bans on certain weapons of war.

Say what you want about Donald Trump, he's showed a modicum of guts in entertaining some gun control measures after the Parkland tragedy. Sadly, he wimped out after the NRA bared a few teeth at him.

More Commentary:
From the commentary: In the administration’s rush to appease the powerful oil industry, it has once again demonstrated that no matter which party is in power, it must kowtow to corporate interests who green-wash their way to record profits at the expense of our planet’s health
From the commentary: There is a way, meanwhile, politicians can put themselves in charge: They can buy the business.
From the commentary: Parents are witnessing the fallout from these political attacks on teachers as districts resort to substitutes and larger class sizes because they can’t hire enough staff.
From the commentary: The divisive rhetoric permeating the political landscape today is even filtering down to what used to be less partisan areas — like official White House and congressional accounts.
From the commentary: As bystanders in the political farce consuming much of the Republican race for president, we can give thanks that DeSantis has decided to battle against the sinister forces of wokeness and leave the important issues pretty much alone.
From the commentary: The fact that most Americans speak only English puts our country at an economic disadvantage and threatens national security if we cannot understand and analyze potential threats such as terrorism or contagions.
From the commentary: The antisemitism on college campuses coincides with a troubling rise in anti-Israel sentiment.
From the commentary: Sometimes, for some women, separate is not only equal but better.
From the commentary: Further, Pence was perfectly willing to watch a multi-front coup attempt inflate on every side of him for months without making a sound, the same way he spent every hour of Trump’s decency-mocking presidency as its primary lickspittle.
From the commentary: Government bailouts do not penalize bad management and lack of oversight, or risky investment strategies that caused the problem.

We've been here before: shocked calls for an even modest tightening of gun laws and Republicans killing almost all efforts to do so. No doubt letting demented 18-year-olds obtain weapons more deadly than those used in the Vietnam War somehow fits into DeSantis' cracked culture war campaign.

But it's increasingly hard to see how he or any other politician is going to overcome growing public dismay at the crazy gun violence now stoking fears among parents, students, grocery shoppers, concert attendees and churchgoers — as well as drug gangs. More and more Americans know an innocent who has been shaken or killed by criminal or mentally ill gunmen.

Michigan may have been an early indicator of a voter rebellion.


Froma Harrop is an American writer and author. She can be reached at or on Twitter @FromaHarrop.

More commetary:
A 56-year-old parolee was arrested and is in the Meeker County Jail after CEE-VI Drug and Gang Task Force agents assisted the Minnesota Department of Corrections with a home visit in Litchfield Friday.
Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City sixth-graders presented a living wax museum on prominent historical figures in Minnesota on March 16.
This week, gardening columnist Don Kinzler gives the odds for survival of a flowering crabapple damaged by rabbits, recommends a potentilla type, and discusses the importance of seed-starting mix for new seedlings.
Todd Terrell, who heads a volunteer rescuers group called United Cajun Navy, told ABC News that Rolling Fork was "pretty much devastated" and many people remained trapped in their homes.
Jammie Niemeyer grew up with no connection to her African American heritage. At age 44, she delved into the stories of 44 African Americans — and discovered herself.
Titled “Mink Sink, Swim on Burbot Catch,” the 1954 article featured commercial fishermen who were netting the “voracious predatory monsters” through the ice on Lake of the Woods for use as mink food.
HF 2564 would repeal “the current statutory language connecting the size of Minnesota’s elk herd to elk damage payments, giving the DNR greater ability to manage and grow Minnesota’s elk herd.”
Gardening columnist Don Kinzler writes, "Having a record of our plants’ identities can save their lives, or at least make their lives a lot healthier."
Lawmakers must act to put a constitutional question on the 2024 election ballot or the trust fund expires.
As part of the phase-in, Americans can draw a seven-day Manitoba waterfowl license this fall but must enter a lottery for a limited number of licenses in 2024.

What To Read Next
Get Local