Michigan State Senator Dayna Polehanki knows a thing or two about what it’s like to run a classroom.
Before being elected to the Michigan Senate in 2018, Polehanki was a high school English teacher for 18 years at New Haven High School. She was named “Teacher of the Year” in the district twice.
In 2018, she flipped Michigan’s 7th district from red to blue. But Democrats remain in the minority in both state houses in Lansing, which has proven to be a major obstacle for passing any sort of gun reform.
After the Uvalde, Texas school shooting, which ended with 19 children murdered, along with two teachers, Michigan Democrats, including Polehanki, attempted to revive bills on the Senate floor, but were blocked by Republicans.
One of the biggest bills, the Safe Storage Package -- a set of bills from both the Senate and House -- would require properly securing firearms to prevent accidental injury or death when the firearms could be accessible to minors. Democrats moved to bring the package to the floor, but the motion was rejected, and the package of bills was sent back to a committee, where Democrats said “bills go to die.”
Some Republicans will often bring up the idea of arming teachers as a way to prevent school shootings, but like many teachers, Polehanki says that idea is not even worth discussing.
“As a former high school teacher, I can say with confidence that arming teachers is one of the dumbest ideas I’ve ever heard and doesn’t merit serious discussion,” Polehanki said. “There’s a reason why major public safety and education groups oppose arming teachers - more guns is not the answer to gun violence. It’s not a reasonable thing to ask of teachers who are managing a million things during the work day, and could lead to additional tragedy.”
Other bills proposed by Democrats include requiring universal background checks on all gun sales, allowing local governments to ban guns on property they own or lease, and prohibiting selling or possessing a magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition with some exception.
All of those bills were introduced in 2021, and many of them before the Oxford shooting. None of these bills were brought up this week.
“My focus is and always will be keeping guns out schools in the first place, which is why I support red flag laws, magazine capacity laws, universal background check laws, and safe storage laws. There is not one singular fix but doing nothing is not an option,” Polehanki said.