The Michigan Legislature is currently considering bills designed to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals. Records provided to the American Independent Foundation show that one of the leading opponents of gun safety legislation in the Michigan House has a history of threatening others with gun violence.
House Minority Leader Matt Hall, a Republican who represents a southwest Michigan district around Kalamazoo, is a graduate of Western Michigan University. During his time there, according to police records obtained through a public records request, he admitted to sending death threats to a student at a college in Maryland, where his girlfriend was studying.
In a signed statement, Hall wrote:
“On December 3, 2001 I sent two separate e-mails to [redacted] at Washington College. The e-mails were threatening to kill him. I thought he had sent me threatening instant messages, but discovered he didn’t.”
In one email, Hall wrote:
YOU BETTER NOT GO TO THE CHRISTMAS PARTY TOMORROW NIGHT! JUST A WORD OF ADVICE!! THE SOUTH WILL RISE AGAIN AND WE DON’T LIKE YOUR KIND TREATING LADIES LIKE [redacted] WITHOUT DIGNITY. SHE IS A FINE LADY YOU DON’T NEED TO BE SAYING SHIT ABOUT HER! WE ARE GOING TO IMPOSE OUR SOUTHERN WAYS ON YOU! I’VE GOT A SHOTGUN RIFLE AND I JUST PUT A BULLET IN IT WITH YOUR NAME ON IT!
In another, he told the student: “YOU HAD BETTER WATCH OUT!! WE DON’T LIKE YOUR KIND HERE IN WC! YOU WON’T FEEL VERY CROMBIE WHEN WE ARE DONE WITH YOU! BY YOU BLOCKING US ON IM WE ARE JUST MORE ANGRY!!! CLOSING TIME IS COMING SOON! BETTER SAY YOUR PRAYERS!!! STAY AWAY FROM [redacted]”
In his statement to the police, Hall wrote: “I don’t have a shotgun or have a bullet with his name on it. I wasn’t going to harm him. I had no intention to hurt him. I realize it was unacceptable and inappropriate. I am sorry for causing him stress. I will not threaten anyone else.”
The file indicates that the case was sent to the Western Michigan University Office of Student Judicial Affairs to be handled within the university. It does not indicate how or whether Hall was punished, but his campaign bio notes that he graduated from Western Michigan University and its affiliated law school.
Hall did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the American Independent Foundation.
In the aftermath of a mass shooting in February at Michigan State University that left three students dead and more injured, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Democratic-led Michigan Legislature enacted a series of bills to combat gun violence.
These included stronger background checks, safe storage requirements, and extreme risk protection orders, commonly known as red flag laws, to temporarily disarm those judged to be a danger to themselves or others.
Bills that would prevent anyone convicted of domestic abuse from owning or possessing firearms and ammunition for eight years after completing their sentences are working their way through the Legislature.
“This is about preventing domestic violence survivors from experiencing further domestic violence and making sure people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence can’t have a gun for a period of years,” Democratic Sen. Stephanie Chang, who sponsored the proposals, told the Michigan Advance in July.
The Republican minority has opposed these gun safety efforts. In an Aug. 9 press release, since deleted from the Michigan House Republicans’ website, Hall framed himself as “a Leading Defender of our Second Amendment Rights”:
It’s no secret that many left-wing activists are pushing radical infringements on constitutional freedoms. You may have heard of extreme ideas such as banning so-called “assault weapons” or holding local gun shops liable if someone else commits a crime. I’ll always stand against these radical proposals to interfere with your right to bear arms, and if Democrats bring up any of them for a vote in the Michigan House of Representatives, I will proudly vote “NO.”
Earlier this year, I voted “NO” on “red flag” laws — which would take away law-abiding Michiganders’ constitutionally protected firearms and their ability to defend themselves, while violating citizens’ right to a fair legal process. I also voted “NO” on burdensome mandates requiring universal background checks and registration for private gun sales.
In a post in March 2022, Hall touted legislation to lower the penalties for those carrying concealed pistols with expired licenses.
Ryan Bates, the executive director of End Gun Violence Michigan, said in a statement: “This year, the legislature has made historic progress on gun safety measures. It’s concerning to learn that a legislative leader who opposed some of those initiatives has made violent threats in the past. Now is the time when all our leaders in Lansing need to unite around protecting our communities from gun violence.”
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.