(WWJ) – A new group of advocates in Michigan, including some impacted by the Oxford High School shooting, is calling for the state legislature to take action in the fight against gun violence in the state.
End Gun Violence Michigan, a new effort officially announced on Monday, says the legislature must pass laws to curb gun violence by 2024, or they will go to the ballot themselves.
While the new organization is first setting out to encourage the state’s lawmakers to take action, they say it may be time to start a ballot initiative if the legislature fails to act.
End Gun Violence Michigan wants to see popular reforms such as universal background checks, safe storage measures that require guns in homes with children to be secured, and prohibitions on guns at government buildings like the Michigan State Capitol.
Leaders with the group say Michiganders all across the state, in big cities and small towns alike, have been impacted by gun violence and it’s time to take action.
“From big cities like Detroit to small towns like Oxford, gun violence is tearing our communities apart,” Bishop Bonnie Perry of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan said during a Zoom conference Monday. “We can't stand by anymore while more people, including our children, are killed. Our message to the legislature is simple: make change or we'll take common-sense gun violence prevention measures to the people.”
She says Michiganders can have safety and a sensible gun culture.
The newly established group, while truly stirred into action by last November’s shooting at Oxford High that claimed the lives of four students, was “formed out of a shared sense of anger and frustration after years of inaction and countless avoidable gun deaths.”
Kiley Myrand, a survivor of the Oxford shooting whose close friend was killed in the rampage, was featured in Monday’s announcement, along with two mothers who lost their children to gun violence – Sherri Scott of Detroit and Mia Reid, the CEO of the Charles W. Reid Community Help Center, which is named after her son, who was killed by gun violence 10 years ago.
Scott is the mother of Francesca Marks, who was killed by gunfire at a family reunion at Rouge Park in Detroit in the summer of 2019. Police said they believed the violence stemmed from an argument over a basketball game at the park.
Myrand said Nov. 30 “began like any other day and ended like my worst nightmare.”
When shots rang out inside the school that day, she texted her brother, a freshman, and waited three minutes for a reply that he was okay.
“That three minutes was the scariest three minutes of my life,” she said. The relief only lasted moments until she heard more screaming in the halls.
“No one my age should experience losing a friend, especially this way,” she said.
Myrand says her community has “found the light and the love,” in the wake of the tragedy, but she says Oxford is different without the four students killed that day, and “things need to change.”
“I will never understand how a 15-year-old can go into a gun store, point at a weapon of choice and then days later use it to kill four students.”
Prosecutors have accused the parents of Oxford shooter Ethan Crumbley of buying the murder weapon for him as “an early Christmas present.”
Reid says the measures End Gun Violence Michigan is asking for are “just common sense” and even popular amongst gun owners.
“Children shouldn't be able to access dangerous firearms. Most gun owners understand this and are responsible. We just want all gun owners to be responsible,” Reid said.
The group says there are a number of ways fellow Michiganders can help in the cause:
• Visit www.endgunviolencemichigan.org for updates and to donate.
• Join the March for Our Lives "Lobby for Our Lives" Youth Lobby Day on February 23.
• Join the All-Michigan Gun Violence Lobby Day on April 13.
• Register for the statewide day of action against gun violence on June 6.
• DONATE to End Gun Violence Michigan
More information on the group can be found at https://www.migunsafety.org/.