Senator Debbie Stabenow talks gun control and other issues at OU town hall

In the hours after a deadly shooting rocked Central Michigan University, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow held a surprise town hall event to talk about issues such as gun control, DACA and healthcare with students, staff and faculty at Oakland University.

Attended by nearly 60 people, the event opened with Oakland University Student Congress Legislator Ryan Fox giving remarks, citing Stabenow’s fight to lower college costs and her fight to lower the student debt burden before the senator took the stage.

“I grew up in a little town called Claire,” Stabenow said. “We were about 13 minutes from out closest university which was Central Michigan University, and we just had another gun violence this morning at Central, and it just reaffirms for me the work we have to do together to make sure that we all can be safe.”

The Senator began by talking of her family’s love for hunting and fishing and how her family practiced safe gun ownership during the assault weapons ban from 1994 to 2004, saying how this ban did not affect her family’s ability to practice their Second Amendment right and how they didn’t miss a single day of hunting. She blamed Congress’s inability to extend the ban as the reason mass shootings have tripled.

After talking shortly about the importance of net neutrality, the need for high speed internet, the needs to protect the Great Lakes and the importance of maintaining DACA,  it was time for the senator to take questions from the audience.  

The first question asked pertained to the future of the public service loans forgiveness program.

“The public loan forgiveness program is one of the things we hope to take this money that we received and put it in to, we think it can be one of the quickest ways to help students because the public loans forgiveness program for going into public service, law enforcement, social work, healthcare and so on,” Stabenow said. “The problem with this is that it’s not being fulfilled as it should be, it needs to be continued and were hoping that we can strengthen it and continue it with the money that we were just able to get as part of the budget.”   

The senator was then asked about what concrete steps Stabenow would take to reform the U.S.’s gun laws. The senator said she was advocating for reform, but in order for there to be change they would need people who support gun reform in the majority.

“If we don’t have bipartisan support we can achieve what we want, but first of all we need universal background checks, and that means not only where somebody would get a gun, but there are issues right now related to domestic violence, and a the law will need to be strengthened in regards to universal background checks,” Stabenow said.

The senator again stressed the need for an assault weapons ban, bringing up the success the former ban from 1994-2004 had. She also stressed the need to ban bump stocks, and to reform red flag laws and the terrorist watch list so people on this list are unable to purchase weapons.

Stabenow also talked of arming teachers the right way.

“I’m not talking about arming teachers with guns, that doesn’t make sense to me,” she said. “I’m talking about arming them with computers and textbooks and pencils, and I’d love to arm them with support staff, school counselors and school nurses, that would be arming teachers the right way.”

Another question asked pertained to Stabenow’s support of Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare For All” Bill that was introduced last September, and why she did not support it then.

“My passion and what got me into politics in the first place was healthcare, and so I care deeply and have been involved deeply in things involving healthcare and I believe in universal healthcare,” Stabenow said.

She believed Sanders’ Bill was not fleshed out enough and it did not dig deep enough into handling the healthcare for people that already have private insurance. Stabenow believed more work was needed in order to ensure a future healthcare Bill would handle this issue.

After the event, Stabenow was asked by The Oakland Post about campaign finance reform and whether she would support legislation to overturn Citizens United.

“I believe Citizens United is wrong and has been corrupting our political system and to start I’ve been a co-sponsor of the disclose act,” she said. “I would gladly repeal Citizens United.”

Other issues that were asked by the audience ranged from student loans, Michigan roads and climate change. A full recording of Senator Stabenow’s event can be found below.