Oakland Co. prosecutor argues state gun laws insufficient for public safety

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Detroit — Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald on Wednesday argued Michigan's gun laws "don't require people to secure a deadly weapon" and are insufficient for public safety.

The prosecutor made the remarks and defended her decision to charge a 15-year-old sophomore as an adult in connection with a deadly Nov. 30 shooting rampage at Oxford High School during an interview with Stephen Henderson on WDET-FM (101.9).

McDonald told Henderson that there are "very few" gun laws in Michigan. While guns can't be purchased in the state by those under 18, she said, minors can be with a parent while they make a weapon purchase and children can be with parents to fire guns at a shooting range. 

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald has charged the parents of 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley during a news conference in Pontiac on Friday, December 3, 2021.

"There are many responsible gun owners but there is no safe storing (law) in Michigan. We don’t require people to secure a deadly weapon," she said. "I don’t see asking that in any way restricts anyone's right to possess a gun.”

Ethan Crumbley is charged with 24 counts including first-degree murder and terrorism in the shooting that left four high school students dead and seven others injured. His parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, are each charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. 

All three pleaded not guilty and are being held in the Oakland County Jail pending further hearings in January and February.

McDonald, during the Wednesday interview on "Detroit Today," noted the Crumbleys purchased their son the handgun and publicly posted on social media that it was an early “Christmas present.”

“I’m not against them (guns),” said McDonald, adding "I grew up in a house with guns."

But, in the Crumbley case, McDonald contends: “no precautions were taken to ensure it (the weapon) didn’t end up at the school with children running for their lives.”

The parents stored the weapon in their bedroom, their defense attorney has said.

Gun owners, unless they are licensed to carry a concealed weapon, are required to store weapons and ammunition separately when moving them in a vehicle.

McDonald added that unless someone has been determined to be mentally ill or has been institutionalized, there is nothing to stop someone mentally ill from obtaining a firearm in Michigan.

“I think we can agree that we all know people who shouldn’t own a weapon,” she said.

McDonald also said despite criticism she stands by her charging decisions in the case. 

“Based on all the evidence I have seen, it is an appropriate charge (for Ethan)…This is not like any juvenile lifer case I’ve reviewed…

“No way would I take a chance with him being released when he was 21 years old," McDonald said. 

McDonald did not elaborate Wednesday on what other actions if any, she might pursue regarding the state's gun laws.

The prosecutor earlier this month put out a call to end gun violence in schools in the country and said she's hoping to move the needle on appropriate gun control legislation.

State Sen. Rosemary Bayer, D-Beverly Hills, whose district includes Oxford High School, has authored a bill banning "high capacity magazines," limiting them to 10 rounds.

The Republican-controlled Legislature has consistently resisted imposing new restrictions on firearms. Earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, told reporters there would be a time to determine whether the lawmakers should act after the Oxford shooting.

“I’m not going to rest with just prosecuting this case,” McDonald said Wednesday. “I’m going to do everything I can to make certain this doesn’t happen again. This is a tragic event and kids across the state need to know it's safe to go to school.”


(248) 338-0319