Michigan Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin is introducing legislation on Wednesday that would require the safe storage of firearms in the wake of the Oxford school shooting in her district that left four students dead last month.
Slotkin’s legislation, called the “Safe Guns, Safe Kids Act,” would require gun owners to secure firearms away from a child if there’s potential access to them and would impose a penalty of up to five years of prison time for parents if a child injures themselves or others or uses the firearm in the commission of a crime.
It’s just the latest effort from Democratic lawmakers to try to enact gun safety legislation that has been repeatedly blocked by Republicans in Congress.
CNN has previously reported that prosecutors have alleged the Oxford shooter’s father bought the gun, and that the parents gave the weapon to their son as an early Christmas present. The parents, who each face four counts of involuntary manslaughter, are accused of giving their son unfettered access to the gun he’s accused of using.
“What really stood out in Oxford was the role that the parents played,” Slotkin, who is a moderate Democrat from a swing district, told CNN. “We came up with this bill, building on good work that others have done – both in the state of Michigan and also federally – and created a bill that would make it against the law for a person to keep an unsecured firearm if it’s reasonable the child could access that firearm.”
The introduction of the legislation comes the day after the nine-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. In a video shared Tuesday, President Joe Biden called on the Senate to pass three bills – one on background checks, one aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of abusers and the Build Back Better Act, which includes programs for community violence intervention.
Earlier this year, Biden unveiled a set of executive actions aimed at taking certain guns out of the hands of criminals and pouring resources into community violence prevention. The actions included expanding background checks for certain types of guns, regulating stabilizing braces built for pistols, restricting weapons known as “ghost guns,” which can be built using parts and instructions purchased online, making new investments in intervention programs for violence-prone communities and creating model “red flag” legislation for states to pass.
But the limited scope of the President’s actions underscores the challenge he faces in getting legislation passed on guns in an evenly split and starkly divided Senate.
While Slotkin’s bill could pass the Democrat-controlled House if it’s put to a vote, it faces an uncertain fate in the Senate where Democrats would need at least 10 Republicans to break a filibuster to advance the legislation.
Slotkin, who served three tours in Iraq alongside the US military as a CIA analyst, said she recognizes that she has an uphill battle ahead to get Republicans to sign onto her bill but hopes they will recognize the need for such a measure in the wake of the school shooting.
“I’m still hopeful,” she said. “I think it just reflects the fact that gun safety issues, unfortunately, have become these really political conversations. I’m trying to defy that.”
Betsy Klein and Kate Sullivan contributed to this report.