LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – The End Gun Violence Michigan coalition hosted seven press conferences throughout the state including a rally on the steps of the Michigan Capitol to call on the new Legislature to focus on anti-gun violence laws in the new term.
The Lansing event included speakers Bishop David Bard (Michigan United Methodist Conference), Bishop Bonnie Perry (Bishop of Episcopal Diocese of Michigan), Bishop Prince Singh (Episcopal Diocese of Eastern and Western Michigan), Rabbi Asher Lopatin (Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC), Jonathan Gold (Michigan President of Gifford’s Gun Owners for Safety). Other rallies were held in Oxford, Grand Rapids, Detroit, Kalamazoo, Saginaw, Lansing and Marquette.
Gold, a long time gun owner with more than 20 years of handgun training experience, and whose advocacy group’s mission is to bring gun owners to the table when gun safety issues are a concern in the state, encouraged members of both sides of the aisle to seriously consider the issue of gun violence.
“Everybody wants to lump gun owners into one big pile and usually because of radical clips that happen that produce drama on T.V.,” Gold said, “But there are gun owners in this state supporting gun safety legislation that want to make gun safety safer especially for all of these kids [near the Capitol steps].”
Gun storage laws were a priority to Gold, but he recognized that passing them alone would not solve the entire problem.
“We know that we cannot end gun violence,” Gold said, “but we know we can make it more rare and things more safe.”
While Gold acknowledged that other states are different with different legislature’s writing different legislation, Colorado is a state that he is looking to as an example of passing more gun reform.
The group announced its call to action for the new Democrat majority Legislature to consider bills addressing the following in a press release:
- Safe storage, which would require guns in homes with children to be locked safely away (82% support). When implemented in Florida, safe storage reduced youth firearms deaths by 51%.
- Universal background checks for all firearms purchases (90% support).
- Extreme risk protection orders, which would allow a judge to temporarily remove firearms from an individual that may to be a risk for harming themselves or others (80% support).
- Restrictions on the ability of domestic abusers to own firearms.
One of the speakers and the emcee for the event, Bishop Perry, shared after the rally about how her background in Chicago has affected and informed her views on guns.
“I did a lot of work in Chicago, and was severely traumatized when Sandy Hook happened and nothing changed,” Bishop Perry said, “I came here and thought well you know we’ll see, and then Oxford happened.”
She acknowledged that the group has been having many meetings with both the Senate and House, encouraging them to pass legislation pertaining to Universal Background checks, Extreme Risk Protection Orders, Safe Storage, and to prevent convicted domestic abusers from gun ownership within the first 100 days of the session.
“When Florida implemented safe storage laws, teen suicide and young people’s death decreased by 50%,” she said.
Currently, there have been no Republicans that have come to the table to discuss options to the Bishop’s knowledge, but she remains hopeful for the future.
“I think this is going to be a bi-partisan piece because I think people with good will want to keep our citizens safe,” Bishop Perry said.
The Michigan Education Association, an education advocacy group whose mission is to “To protect, advocate, and advance the rights of all education professionals to promote quality public education for all students,” posted on its Facebook page on Jan. 16 mentioning its support for the End Gun Violence Michigan group.
“Reminder: MEA is joining community leaders across the state in calling on the Legislature to pass popular, common-sense gun safety laws that will protect children and families,” MEA said on Facebook.
MEA was contacted to clarify what their level of involvement with the coalition has been, but did not comment before time of press.
“We’re not talking about taking anyone’s guns away,” Gold added, “we’re talking about making the state of Michigan safer, especially for its most vulnerable citizens.”