Michigan State University Shooting: 3 Dead, 5 Wounded, a Dead Shooter, No Known Motive

"The Rock" on MSU campus, via WNEM, asks hard questions.

Details continue to emerge about the shooting on the Michigan State University campus late Monday night, and it is already shaping up to be the same tired repetitive situation. Laws, no matter how numerous, do not stop anyone from doing anything. Laws allow you to do something about someone who did something you don’t like.

The shooter was,

-Known to police.

-Criminal history (misdemeanor) with firearms, plead down from a felony.

-Courts made accommodations (extended probation) to allow the lower sentence and conviction to be kept in place.

The shooter, 43, had a conviction that likely prohibited him from getting a license to carry a pistol. That conviction came from a more severe initial charge of concealed carrying a pistol without a license, which was dropped for the misdemeanor charge. That conviction would have been a felony, made him a prohibited person entirely, making the act of possessing the gun at all an additional felony level crime, and most relevantly perhaps would have had this man in prison right now on year four of five instead of MSU’s campus. We have yet another instance of someone who, in hindsight, should have been imprisoned for earlier offenses and was not or not kept there to full sentencing. Michigan, like many states, has several activist elements who encourage very light sentencing or no charges in firearm crime cases for equity purposes.

The AG of Michigan, Dana Nessel, stepped back into the fray with this, “Does the East Lansing City Council and Mayor still want me to dismiss this case? Or is it OK for my department to treat gun cases seriously now? Please advise.” In commentary for a Lansing State Journal story discussing the East Lansing City Council and the Mayor urging Nessel to dismiss charges against an armed shop lifter who ended up shot by police.

We cannot future proof any person’s actions, they are free agents and will act as they choose to act, but our system of rules failed to prevent this all because an adult just ignored every prohibition placed in front of him and our justice system feels that enforcing the rules and laws is prejudicial. Then in the next breath they will argue that we need more rules, to apparently not enforce, in order to fix the problems with the current rules.

The shooter broke the following laws,

-Carrying without a license (again), illegal. His second known count of this felony, he likely carried constantly.

-Carrying on the MSU Campus, illegal. MSU, U of M, and Wayne have special rule setting privileges as their boards are state elected. The rules can carry the weight of law.

-Aggravated Assault/Attempted Murder, 5 counts, illegal.

-Murder, 1st Degree, 3 counts, illegal.

Four. Four severe unique legal violations with multiple occurrences. Four egregious breaches of the law. But the narrative will be shifted to ‘protecting the kids’ and ‘this is a uniquely American problem’, away from the governing powers’ total inability to deliver on their promise law, order, and safety. Don’t consider the colossal pile of failure, we have a rule to fix it!

Michigan’s elections swung the state legislature in alignment to the governor’s mansion and this could absolutely be leveraged for several of Whitmer’s stated measures she’d like to see implemented, to no effect on this or any future shooting like this.


The Michigan Governor expressed grave concern and her regards for the victims. I in no way believe her to be less than sincere in those condolences or her desire to help the victims, the campus, and reduce crime in the state. But she also has agenda goals and this gives her an opportunity.

Governor Whitmer is smarter, or perhaps simply more aware of the realities of the state, than her east and west coast peers. She isn’t chasing things like an Assault Weapon Ban, she’ll let her peers in legislature rant and rave about it but her goals center on UBC’s and ERPOs. Background checks and red flag laws.

The UBC is a real possibility in Michigan for a number of reasons. Foremost among them is that we nearly have it already. Handguns, the most popular firearm category, are already required to be background checked for any transfer. This would only add long guns to the list of firearms requiring a NICS or LE initiated background check. It is arguably not that much of a change. More challenging but still viable is a variation on Extreme Risk Protection Orders, which are pre-judicial (and in ways prejudicial) orders that violate the rights of an accused individual to their property and constitutional protections because they are deemed too great a risk to themselves or others. Not so much a risk as to warrant actually being placed into a custody status of some sort, either institutionalized or arrested depending upon circumstance.

It is this weird middle ground that gets more absurd the longer you consider it.

‘You are dangerous, you might hurt yourself or someone else. We are taking your guns.’

‘Ok, how about kitchen knives and other sharps? My car? Access to toxins like bleach? Fire?’

‘No, you might need those.’

‘Fair, might need the gun too.’

‘Too risky.’

‘Okay, why am I not under arrest or on the way to a hospital if I’m this dangerous?’

‘That would be a violation of your rights.’

‘How about a house arrest or supervision?’

‘Violation of your rights and too manpower intensive.’

‘Which is why there are facilities both medical and criminal you could send me too, since there is apparently enough evidence I’m dangerous.’

‘Nope, violates your rights. You can voluntarily check in to somewhere if you want.’

‘Doesn’t taking my lawfully owned firearms without any criminal conviction or severe mental health diagnosis and institutionalization violate my rights?’

‘No, this is for your and others safety.’

‘So would those other actions and they’d probably benefit everyone more since people are actively involved in positions to help me or prevent me as the case may be.’

‘Nope, violates your rights.’

‘So we’re just okay violating my gun rights…’

‘Now you get it.’

What would a new law prevent.

As usual, nothing.

The MSU shooter used a handgun. So background checks failed to stop the shooter, prohibition on carry without a license failed to stop the shooter, and prohibition of carry on MSU campus failed to stop the shooter. What additional rule do we theorize would get the shooter to follow the rest of the rules, especially since we also didn’t prosecute him for breaking an allegedly serious rule about guns in 2019?

This is the conundrum the gun control crowd cannot be pressed into critically thinking through and reaching hard solutions, instead they want to wish murder out of existence by pretending that making it a pain to buy or own a gun, something that is literally a civil human right, is the same as making it less likely the violent segments of the population who will commit a heinous crime won’t. It really is that convoluted a logic chain.

The Democrat solution out of Lansing to a man violating the ever living hell out of Michigan’s concealed carry statutes is make people do background checks for rifles if they buy them privately. We can expect about the same level of compliance as with handguns, which is already the law, which is to say some compliance from the lowest risk groups in the Michigan citizenry.

You can say less guns = less crime in your pre-K level of understanding of how crime works, but the rest of us need to live in the real world where crime is a complex social and financial equation of objective and subjective ‘win’ states, where the goal is whatever the prospective criminal sets it as and society’s laws against the act are just a list of things that the criminals aren’t going to do today. Based on our history, the law isn’t even a thing we will hold a criminal accountable for if they break it if there is a reason we can find that it would make the state look bad. Add onto that any reasonably accurate list of state abuses and confidence in Lansing to ‘get it right’ shouldn’t be high.

The shooter self-deleted, we don’t even get to exercise what justice could be had from an arrest, trial, and conviction. That was something we should evidently have done already with this person, but we (the courts) opted to give the man a very light and non-prohibitive sentence from the felony violation in 2019. The evidence at the time may even have warranted the lighter charge and sentence, as we couldn’t predict that instead of keeping him in prison for the five year sentence for that crime (of which we would be in year four) we instead had a triple homicide and 5 attempted homicides on one of our largest college campuses.


I’m having this conversation with a friend as I write this and I’ll say the same thing here I said to them. This doesn’t go away because Lansing says that the bad thing is extra bad, especially with our nation wide problem of enforcement. This gets solved when we, as a multi-cultural society of enormous size, are at a place where violence doesn’t make sense as a currency. I don’t mean in a moral sense because that doesn’t apply to everyone the same way, I mean in an objective amoral sense.

Whether you believe killing could be beneficial if some sort of way under certain select circumstances (the majority of society actually, just the circumstance vary) or if it is literally anathema to your core being, that because of where society is on a macro and personal level there is no gain in killing regardless of your personal stance is where we need to be. That there is nothing to gain objectively or subjectively in being violent.

Sounds hard?


Because it is.

Killing has had a subjective and objective value throughout the entirety of human history. That doesn’t mean it was right, it means there was a gain from violence. We have to keep devaluing the gains. We do that by making those end goals accessible in other and easier ways.

That. Is. Hard.

But that’s where we need to focus our energies.

We won’t though… let’s talk about background checks people will ignore some more.

Keith Finch
Keith is the former Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. He got told there was a mountain of other things that needed doing, so he does those now and writes here when he can. editor@gatdaily.com A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. Teaching since 2009, he covers local concealed carry courses, intermediate and advanced rifle courses, handgun, red dot handgun, bullpups, AKs, and home defense courses for civilians, military client requests, and law enforcement client requests.