Most Michigan GOP candidates silent on mass shootings

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Michigan Republican congressional candidate John Gibbs' website calls a 'peaceful, heavily armed population' a 'God-given guaranteed human right.'

The Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature has repeatedly refused to take action to reform gun safety laws, even in the wake of a mass shooting in its state: Following a school shooting in Oxford on Nov. 3, 2021, in which four students were killed, Democratic state lawmakers introduced four separate gun safety bills. Republicans prevented all of them from getting a vote. 

Following the killing of 10 people in a majority-Black neighborhood grocery store by an avowed white supremacist shooter in Buffalo, New York, on May 14, and the May 24 killing by an 18-year-old with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle of 19 children and two teachers in a school in Uvalde, Texas, the Republican candidates up and down the ballot in Michigan either remained silent on the events or repeated that they support the Second Amendment. Some claimed divine authority to bear arms or referenced fringe conspiracy theories. 

Then, over the weekend of June 4-5, multiple shootings across eight states killed 15 people and left an additional 60 wounded. 

State Sen. Tom Barrett, a U.S. Army veteran running in Michigan's 7th Congressional District, has made no mention of any shootings. On the evening of the shooting in Uvalde, Barrett posted a video on Facebook congratulating a local family-owned dry cleaning business on its 100th anniversary. A press release on his website two days later noted his support for gas tax relief. On May 16, two days after the Buffalo shootings, he had tweeted criticism of Biden over inflation.  

His Democratic opponent, Elissa Slotkin, on May 27 tweeted her frustration with Republicans' refusal to vote on gun safety measures: "It was extremely disheartening to watch my opponent join with Republicans in a party-line vote in the Michigan Senate earlier this week to reject something as basic as safe gun storage."

In addition to posting support for the people of Uvalde and Buffalo on her social media accounts, Slotkin has called for addressing hate crimes, and while noting that she supports the Second Amendment, she says on her campaign website that as a former intelligence officer who served alongside the military in Iraq, "I also believe we need to be honest that gun violence presents a serious national security and public health issue. And it is precisely because of my experience both operating firearms and working in national security that I believe we must pass common-sense gun safety legislation. ... And as an Army wife, I do not believe ordinary citizens should be able to easily obtain weapons or materiel that allow them to outgun their local police or military."

Republican John James, himself an Army veteran, is running in Michigan's 10th Congressional District. He too has made no public statements about mass shootings. On Memorial Day, he tweeted about the nation's "fallen heroes" without mentioning the victims of recent gun violence. 

James' recent public statements include a post on Twitter against abortion rights and an interview with Fox News on May 24, as news of the shooting in Uvalde broke, attacking Biden's economic and foreign policies and calling him the "Marie Antoinette of our time."

Incumbent Republican Rep. Peter Meijer, who represents Michigan's 3rd Congressional District and is also an Army veteran, is up for reelection this year. Silent about the shootings, he posted to Facebook two days after the shooting in Uvalde about attending a "Read to Me" event at a children's therapy center. 

Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Meijer's Republican challenger in the primary, John Gibbs, whose campaign website says: "Our founding fathers understood that a peaceful, heavily armed population was not only a God-given guaranteed human right, but one of the surest safeguards against government tyranny and criminals. This important legacy must be preserved at all costs. This means Nationwide Permitless Concealed Carry, at the bare minimum."

Gibbs tweeted on May 25, "Guns don't cause crimes. Don't take the bait."

Mike Detmer, a Republican candidate for state Senate also endorsed by Trump, avoided any direct mention of the mass shootings, but said in a tweet on May 31: "I have a special message for @JoeBiden, the Democrats and these spineless RINOS who want to infringe upon my Second Amendment Rights; three words: KISS MY ASS!"

In May he retweeted several promos for the Dinesh D'Souza documentary "2000 Mules," another fraudulent argument that the 2020 election was stolen.

Michigan Republicans' nominee for attorney general, the Trump-endorsed Matt DePerno, chose silence in response to the killings as well. His public statements after the Buffalo and Uvalde mass shootings touted his campaign and attacked current Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel

Kristina Karamo, a Trump-endorsed Republican nominee for secretary of state, on May 30 retweeted a news report about Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announcing a national freeze on handgun ownership with the comment: "Pay Attention America. You don't solve one atrocity by laying the groundwork for another atrocity. It's amazing how people in 2022 behave as though, money and power = trustworthiness and respectability. Pick up a history book. Klaus and crew are moving quick. #2A."

Karamo appeared to be referring to Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum and the center of a conspiracy theory involving a proposed WEF program called "The Great Reset," which the Forum says is an agenda to rebuild the global economy in the wake of the COVID pandemic to work toward "equality and sustainability" and "build a new social contract that honours the dignity of every human being" but conspiracy theorists say is a plot to erode capitalism and freedom and institute a world government. The "Great Reset" conspiracy theory is connected with the "Great Replacement" racist conspiracy theory promoted by the shooter in Buffalo. 

After the Uvalde shooting, Karamo tweeted: "Our problem in America is a lack of morality. We don't see human beings as inherently valuable, and engage in the sin of partiality. Government can't fix this, only fear and love of God changes hearts."

By contrast, on May 24, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered the U.S. and Michigan flags on public properties to be lowered to half-staff in honor of the victims of the shooting in Uvalde. In press release posted on her website, Whitmer says,"My heart breaks for the students, teachers, staff, and families of Robb Elementary School. The death of multiple students and the shooting of many others is horrific. Our state is in mourning alongside the parents who had their children taken from them today and the entire community in Uvalde, Texas." 

On May 27, Whitmer tweeted: "My message is simple: violence must stop. I am committed to working with anyone who wants to reduce gun violence, reduce crime, and hold violent people accountable so we can keep our kids and families safe."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.