By Dean Vaglia
Leader Staff Writer
Two legislative representatives for the Oxford area — state House representative John Reilly (R-Oakland Township) and federal House representative Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) — discussed the Nov. 30 shooting at meetings last week.
Reilly’s meeting took place on the evening of Monday, Dec. 6 at the Oakwood Wedding Chapel. Billed as a “listening meeting” in response to the shooting, a number of constituents attended to ask questions aimed at clarifying Reilly’s legislative record and his thoughts on issues going forward.
An unidentified woman opened the meeting asking Reilly if he believed “children should have unfettered access to their parents’ weapons?” Reilly did not answer immediately, stating about 30 minutes later that laws enforcing locking unused firearms would be unenforceable, later asking the woman to define what a child is before describing how semiautomatic firearms operate.
Another woman asked what Reilly is doing to bring mental health aid to the Oxford community, to which he said a committee is addressing the issue at the House-level.
An unidentified man asked, as part of a prepared statement, for clarification on Reilly’s “no” vote on HB 5522, a $10 million supplementary budget bill that was increased by $40 million to include more money for school resource officers and police training, equipment and healthcare. Reilly said he was already planning to vote “no” as he does not normally vote for supplemental budgets and that the added $40 million made the bill too expensive. Reilly is one of only three representatives — all Republicans — to vote against HB 5522.
Slotkin’s meeting was a virtual town hall on the evening of Thursday, Dec. 9. The congresswoman broadcasted from the meeting room at the Oxford Charter Township office while her chief of staff fielded questions submitted by viewers.
Slotkin began the session with her thoughts on the shooting and the response from first responders, citing their lack of hesitation to enter the scene as an example of how community members have and should not hesitate when reaching out and helping others. The shooting caused Slotkin to think about how normalizing violence and letting mental health issues go largely untreated is doing for school-aged children, to which she said her office has been working on getting federal and state funds “to address the most immediate mental health needs in this area,” though a more systematic approach is needed to address the issue at the state and national level.
Slotkin also mentioned her office is looking into ways to hold gun owners responsible when unsecured weapons are taken and used to illegal ends.
Karen from Orion Township sent in a question about what Slotkin is doing to address gun violence in schools. Slotkin reiterated her commitments to mental health and holding negligent parents accountable, adding that she is looking into requiring background checks for all firearm purchases. Slotkin specifically mentioned gun shows and online sales in reference to how private firearm sales do not require background checks.
By Dean Vaglia