Background Briefing: February 15, 2023


How Was a Mentally Ill Man With a Gun Conviction Who Shot Up His Neighborhood Able to Buy Guns and Kill 3 MSU Students?

We begin with questions arising from Monday’s gun massacre at Michigan State University in which 3 students were killed and 5 critically injured by a mentally ill gunman who had previously been charged with a felony for carrying a concealed weapon that was reduced to a misdemeanor yet he was able to purchase two guns in Michigan in 2021. Joining us is Brian Kalt, the Harold Norris Faculty Scholar and Professor of Law at Michigan State University. He is the author of Constitutional Cliffhangers: A Legal Guide for Presidents and Their Enemies and we discuss how Republicans in the state legislature killed “red flag” laws and why the shooter who was on probation was able to shoot a gun out his backdoor on a number of occasions causing neighbors to call the police who were not able to deal with the shooter’s mental state even though his father deemed him mentally ill.


Correction: Ian stated, based on earlier reporting, that Lansing police visited the gunman’s home while he was on probation in response to his neighbors’ complaints of him firing a weapon out of his backdoor. Lansing police have since stated this to be inaccurate.


54 Countries Make Commitments to Arm Ukraine For a Spring Offensive

Then we examine the results of the meeting today of the 54 country members of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at Ramstein Air Base in Germany with pleas for more weapons and ammunition from Ukrainian leaders becoming increasingly urgent as the critical battle for Bakhmut reaches a crisis point. Joining us is Dr. Tatsiana Kulakevich, a researcher on Eastern Europe who was born and raised in Belarus. She is a permanent instructor in Research Methods and Quantitative Analysis at the University of South Florida’s School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies and a research fellow and affiliated faculty at the University’s Institute on Russia.


What Does Putin Have in Store as His War Begins Its Second Year on February 24?

Then finally we assess the Russian offensive buildup ahead of the first anniversary of their war on Ukraine and what Putin has in store on February 24 and speak with Stuart Kaufman, a Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware. Well versed in issues involving U.S. national security, U.S. foreign policy and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he specializes in ethnic conflict, U.S. national security strategy and international relations history. He served as the Director for Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian Affairs on the National Security Council Staff and is the author of Modern Hatreds: The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War.