PEG 6th Congressional District Newsletter 304
Let’s Do Something
We are devoting this entire newsletter to present organizations and meaningful ways to become more than a bystander to gun violence. After every horrific act of mass shootings we talk and talk and talk about how to make changes. This deadly national public health emergency is complex and leads to feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and angry. We should be outraged and then turn this into action! We offer many options from calling legislators to providing funding for programs making a difference and yes, there are many committed organizations who are making a difference. Let’s commit to doing one thing today. Action can’t wait for the next national tragedy to happen.
Michigan Gun Tales
Surviving School – Sandy Hook and MSU Survivor Speaks
Not only were there Oxford High School survivors who had to relive their trauma Monday at MSU, there was one who actually survived one of the most heinous school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary ten years ago. Shout out to Distill Social for sharing this 1-minute video on their social media. This 21 year old student has lived through her second mass school shooting. This is unconscionable. Action is needed now. Please watch this video.
The Status quo is unsurvivable
A MSU Mother’s Story
I completed this article about gun violence just hours before the shooting at Michigan State University occurred. In some ways, the landscape has changed dramatically in the aftermath of this mass shooting. In other ways, however, the constant death toll of “every day” gun violence persists without change. The only difference is that this week it was punctuated by a high profile local mass shooting, one that is deeply painful and personal to so many of us who are connected to the MSU community.
My daughter is a first year MSU student who was on campus during the shooting. At 8:35pm Monday evening, I received a text message from her, “There’s a shooter on campus.” As far too many parents in this country have now experienced, this message was both surreal and nauseating. I desperately wanted it not to be true. I told myself it must be a false alarm.
It was no false alarm.
My daughter, along with three other students sheltered together in her dorm room in the dark. They pushed a dresser against the door as a barricade. For nearly four hours they sat together silently. Thankfully we were able to stay in constant contact by text messaging.
I thank God she is safe. She is safe but shaken. She is alive.
I am devastated for the families of Arielle Anderson, Brian Fraser, and Alexandria Verner, who were killed in the shooting. I am deeply saddened for the five students who were wounded and still in critical condition, and for their loved ones. I don’t know how to understand that pain, and I pray that I never will. I send my love to all whose lives have been shattered.
We simply cannot continue to live this way. Gun violence is an American nightmare and it is an American shame. It is also an American choice. We can do better and we must.
MSU has 50,000 students and not one of those students or their families has not been impacted by these events. See the student sit-in here.
Download Tragedy and Trauma Resources
Gun Violence is Unrelenting but Preventable
By Sonya Lewis, MD, MPH
and Vice President of the Physicians for the Prevention of Gun Violence
Gun violence in Michigan is unrelenting. Our right to exist free from the fear of getting shot is constantly infringed.
This will continue to be the state of affairs until we, as a state, as a nation, and as a collective of (presumably) civilized humans, decide that we have had enough. We must recognize that the utter carnage and destruction that permeates our daily existence is unnecessary and preventable, and we must reject the gun lobby’s illogical and deadly messaging. Guns do not keep us safe.
We are so numb to living in this state of terror that many of us don’t even realize the urgency of this moment. Unless we happen to be personally connected with the victims, most of us are likely unaware that, according to the Gun Violence Archive, five Michiganders were fatally shot in the past week and 18 others were non fatally wounded (as of this writing, February 13th). This deplorable situation is simply the backdrop of our lives, a truly incomprehensible reality that should shock us to the core.
None of these shooting incidents made national news. We are so accustomed to acts of gun carnage that we fail to take notice, unless the violence is on the scale of Columbine or Sandy Hook or Virginia Tech or Aurora or Charleston or Tree of Life or Las Vegas or Pulse or Parkland or Buffalo or Oxford or Monterey Park or Half Moon Bay or El Paso or Uvalde or… you get my point.
I invite you to pause right now to think about it. These 23 individuals who were injured or killed in Michigan last week were all human beings with families, friends, and communities, not just numbers to cite in an article.
With this in mind, I would like to recognize those who died from gun violence in Michigan last week. Information is sparse, so important details such as names and specifics about the incidents may not be available at the time of this writing. Nevertheless, these individuals’ shortened lives deserve acknowledgment. As we focus on those who have died, let us also remember that those who survive gunshot wounds are left with a lifetime of physical and psychological trauma. Also, this list does not reflect those who died by gun suicide, which is the most common type of gun death in America.
- A 24 year old male was shot and killed in Detroit, and two other people were critically wounded (names not listed) on Feb. 11th.
- Devin McDonald, a 30 year old male, was killed in a Wyoming apartment complex on February 10th. Two other people were injured in the incident (one by gunshot) which is believed to be related to a domestic dispute.
- A male, age and name unknown, was shot multiple times in Grand Rapids on February 10th.
- Nate Jackson (21 years old), is alleged to have killed his girlfriend, Amber Bradshaw (23 years old), in a murder-suicide in Taylor on February 6th. Ms. Bradshaw leaves behind a five year old son who was not present at the time of the shooting.
American gun violence is unrelenting, but we do not have to accept it as inevitable. Let us honor the individuals mentioned above, along with all other victims and survivors by taking action on their behalf.
Passage of legislation such as Universal Background Checks, Red Flag Laws, Child Access Prevention Laws, a ban on assault style weapons, and protections for victims of domestic violence will help make us safer. We must vigorously support bills calling for these changes.
Ultimately, each of us must understand that the unchecked proliferation of guns is an immediate threat to survival. We are all vulnerable.
Please reach out to your elected officials today. Join a gun violence prevention organization that is advocating for reform. Do not remain silent or complacent. We are not powerless in this fight.
Please act now.
*Opinions shared in this piece represent those of the author.
Gun Violence in Michigan – The Statistics
Everytown for Gun Safety, “the largest gun violence prevention organization in America,” has identified:
- At least eight mass shootings in Michigan since 2009, resulting in 37 people killed and 11 people wounded
- In an average year, 1,270 people die and 2,437 are wounded by guns in Michigan. Guns are the leading cause of death among children and teens in Michigan:
- An average of 95 children and teens die by guns every year, of which 39% of these deaths are suicides and 57% are homicides.
- Gun violence in Michigan costs $1,683 per person each year.
- Gun deaths and injuries cost Michigan $16.8 billion each year, of which $380.5 million is paid by taxpayers.
An overview of gun violence in Michigan – as demonstrated by the chart below – can be found here.
Michigan Legislation we need to pass
Safe Storage to Protect Children:
These measures require that firearms be securely stored in homes with children. When Florida introduced safe storage, youth firearm deaths were reduced by 51%. 2021/22 introduced legislation: HB 5066-5069 and SB 550-553.
Universal Background Checks:
Under current Michigan law, assault rifles can be purchased in private party sales without any background check. By changing the word “pistol” to “firearm” in Michigan’s background check law, we can ensure that ALL firearm purchases are subjected to background checks. Criminals who are too dangerous to own a pistol shouldn’t be allowed to own an assault rifle. 2021/22 introduced legislation: HB 4869,70,71 and SB 454, 455, 456.
Extreme Risk Protection Orders (Red Flag Laws):
These laws permit a court to authorize the temporary removal and sale of firearms from and to a person deemed to a threat to themselves or others. 2021/22 introduced legislation: SB 856, 857, 858.
Protection for Domestic Violence Survivors:
These laws would prevent those convicted of domestic violence from owning or purchasing firearms. Domestic abusers often escalate their violence, and it is important to intervene before abuse escalates to shooting or murder. HB 5371, 5372 and SB 678, 679.
Tuesday, February 21. End Gun Violence Michigan Meeting
The timeline for legislation, May and September lobby days, and upcoming statewide days of action will be discussed. Register HERE and you will be sent a link for the Zoom meeting. EndGunViolence.org https://www.migunsafety.org. 8-9pm
Wednesday, March 22. All Day at Michigan State Capitol Lansing
SAVE THE DATE. #endgunviolencemichigan
Wednesday February 22. Isabel Wilkerson: Presumed Superiority
Wilkerson will discuss the enduring potency of such hierarchies of human value; America’s unacknowledged system of rigid, inherited social stratification and its parallels in India and Nazi Germany, which mimicked America’s race laws in its early approaches to the “Jewish Problem.” Register HERE. 6:30-7:45pm
Sunday, March 5. Two Representatives talk 2023 Priorities
We need to show our Representatives that there is overwhelming grassroots support for the work that they do. Join us as we talk to Representative Jimmie Wilson Jr. (32nd District) and Senator Jeff Irwin (15th District) and find out what their priorities are for 2023 and how we can help. RSVP for this free session here. 7pm
Visit the PEG Events Page for all upcoming events at www.equalityingov.org/events!
Things to read, watch, and listen to
Shooting at the Michigan State University Killed Three Students and Wounded Five Others; Everytown, Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Respond
Michigan State University Shooting Happened on the Eve of Five Year Mark of Parkland High School Mass Shooting, And Fifteen Year Mark of Mass Shooting at Northern Illinois University Newly Elected Gun Sense Majorities in Michigan House, Senate and Governor’s Mansion Have Opportunity This Legislative Session to Pass Common Sense Gun Safety Laws EAST LANSING, Mich.
Michigan Gun-Violence Prevention Legislation
Politico notes that Michigan Democrats are considering speeding up the passage of new gun legislation. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has called for universal background checks, red flag laws and safe storage requirements. According to MLive, “with Democrats in full control of the state legislature, albeit with slim majorities, they have some confidence the measures can pass… Even before this week’s tragedy, state Democrats had said gun laws would be among their legislative priorities now that they have complete control of the government.”
Republican support of the proposals in the legislature is not yet clear. They have blocked firearms legislation previously. Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt, R-Porter Township, in a statement offering his condolences, asked for bipartisan cooperation without mentioning firearms. – MLive
Are Red Flag Laws Effective?
UM Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention has new research regarding the importance of Red Flag Laws.” Extreme risk protection orders, also known as red flag laws, can help prevent firearm injury events, including multiple victim/mass shootings, by addressing the threat prior to an event occurring.” For more details, click here.
“Earthquakes rarely kill people”
That’s what PEG’s own Leslie McGraw was told by the daughter of her friend, who is from (and is currently living in) Turkey. She said the real killer is poorly constructed buildings. The newest death toll in the aftermath of Turkey and Syria’s earthquake is over 41,000. Those unable to get in touch with U.S. citizens missing in Türkiye or Syria should contact the U.S. Department of State Overseas Citizens Services Office online or at 1-888-407-4747.
Building owners that did not flee the country are being arrested for their irresponsible builds, however it will be years before survivors will likely rebuild. Immediate needs are NOT CLOTHES. Displaced survivors need camping gear, medical supplies, personal hygiene products, and baby supplies. To support organizations that are internal and closely connected to the people and the rescue missions, consider donating to the following organizations:
- Turkish Red Crescent. https://www.icrc.org/en
- Kizilay. https://www.kizilay.org.tr/
President Biden signed historic gun safety legislation
The legislation passed the House and the Senate with bipartisan support last June. It “includes incentives for states to pass so-called red flag laws that allow groups to petition courts to remove weapons from people deemed a threat to themselves or others.” In addition, dating partners are included in domestic violence cases that before only existed for spouses and former spouses. Background checks are expanded, as are mental health services and best practices for school safety.
While clearly not enough, as we see daily in this country, it is a start. Now that we have a more gun control friendly majority in Lansing, it is time to push our legislators to close the gaps for Michiganders.
Find your State Representative here.
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A special thanks to our newsletter contributors: Lisa Kamil, Richard Gaeth, Bette Cotzin, Bernie Banet, Linda Bennett, Kayla Conrad, Ellen Halter, Leslie McGraw, Leslie Kamil, and Chuck Newman for their contributions and help preparing our newsletters. And, a special shout out goes to Dr. Sonya Lewis, Distill Social, End Gun Violence Michigan and Everytown for Gun Safety for doing this important and tedious work year-round.
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