Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer opened up in an interview on Friday, five days after a gunman opened fire at her alma mater Michigan State University.
Whitmer was again tasked with leading the state of Michigan through another school shooting.
“It’s hard, and it takes a toll,” said Whitmer. “Every one of us is feeling it to some extent or another. But my job is to stay focused on trying to support people in a crisis.”
Whitmer also said she’d spent time with the families of the survivors and the three victims, set to be laid to rest this weekend.
“I asked them what I can do to be helpful,” Whitmer said. “The last thing I want to do is add to their burden or be a distraction in the worst moment of their lives.”
She also addressed the concerns of students who rallied at the capitol in Lansing this week. Hundreds came to make their voices heard during a sit-down protest calling on lawmakers to do more than just show up. They called for more gun regulation.
“For the first time, I think we’ve got a legislature that is inclined to move forward,” Whitmer said. “And so I’m, I’m grateful for that. I don’t take it for granted, though.”
Whitmer did praise Democrats who introduced bills for universal background checks on guns, extreme risk protection orders, also known as “Red-flag laws,” and safe storage laws.
The bills are considered the three prongs of the approach to gun reform Whitmer promised in her State of the State address earlier this month. However, efforts in previous legislatures have failed to pass under Republican leadership.
Still, there are questions about whether those laws would have stopped the 43-year-old man from shooting into classrooms and campus buildings.
The shooter was charged with a felony firearm offense in 2019 but was able to plead down to a misdemeanor, a common prosecutorial tool across the country.
“We know that there are reports that people had called with concerns about the most recent shooter in Michigan State’s campus, had there been extreme risk protection order on the books, perhaps, that might have kept him from legally obtaining guns,” Whitmer said.
Whitmer also vowed to stand by the students and the MSU community as classes are set to resume next week, despite some outcry from the student body.
“We need to support our young people,” Whitmer said. “We need to listen to them, and we need to wrap them with the support they need and address their very real concerns about their safety.”
Watch the full interview with Gov. Whitmer below.