Steinhardt: MSU Tragedy Shows Failure of Liberal Gun Policies that Free Criminals and Target Law-Abiding Firearm Owners

Senator Doug Steinhardt said the recent loss of life at Michigan State University could have been prevented if not for liberal policies that have failed to hold gun criminals accountable.

“The simple fact is the shooting at MSU could have been prevented if Anthony McRae had been properly prosecuted and punished for his prior gun crimes,” said Steinhardt (R-23). “Instead of being prosecuted for the felony gun crime for which he was arrested, he was allowed to plead guilty to lesser charges that allowed him to continue owning guns. If not for that failure, the loss of life at MSU likely would not have occurred.”

Anthony McRae, a resident of Lansing, Michigan who grew up in New Jersey, killed three people and injured several more in a shooting at Michigan State University on Monday before taking his own life.

News reports describe frequent gunshots heard by neighbors at McRae’s home in recent years. He was arrested in 2019 and charged with a felony gun charge. Had he been convicted of that felony, he would have been prohibited from owning firearms.

Instead, the prosecutor allowed him to plead guilty to a lesser misdemeanor charge of possession of a loaded firearm in a vehicle, which did not prohibit him from owning firearms. He is reported to have legally purchased one or more firearms after completing probation in 2021.

The prosecutor at the time of McRea’s plea deal had dialed back most felony firearm charges citing “dramatic racial inequity,” but refused to take responsibility for the potential consequences, saying, “the purported link between this policy and any future rise in gun violence is disingenuous and erroneous.”

“There absolutely is a direct link between liberal soft-on-crime policies and violent crime at MSU and elsewhere,” said Steinhardt. “Despite what liberals believe, holding criminals who illegally possess and use guns accountable isn’t racist, it’s public safety. Time after time, Democrats have used their own prosecutorial failures as an excuse to fear-monger and target the constitutional rights of law-abiding firearm owners who want to protect themselves from actual criminals. We’re not falling for it any longer.”

Steinhardt is in the process of drafting legislation that would make it harder for prosecutors to enter into a plea agreement with a defendant who has certain prior convictions or charges related to violent gun crimes.

He is also drafting legislation to collect data to help quantify the impact of plea deals on gun prosecutions. The bill would also require data to be collected to help understand what crimes, particularly gun crimes, are committed by persons released due to bail reform or who are on probation or parole, including juvenile offenders.

“We need to stop the revolving door in the justice system that gives repeat gun criminals a slap on the wrist before returning them to the communities they’ve already victimized,” added Steinhardt. “Democrats, like the former prosecutor in Michigan, insist that’s not happening, but they’re delusional. We’re going to collect the data here in New Jersey that proves it.”

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