While Michigan has enacted a modest amount of gun violence, the state does not limit the number of firearms that may be purchased at one time; regulate unsafe handguns; allow law enforcement discretion to deny a concealed handgun license and more.
The Oakland County Board of Commissioners as well as many local activists, parents and public figures has taken action to reduce gun violence in Michigan.
On Thursday, February 21st a group of local community activists and advocates gathered in Commerce Township to urge Congressman Kerry Bentivolio to support reasonable gun safety laws.
At the rally, concerned MoveOn.org members joined by other gun safety groups urged Congressman Bentivolio to take action.
“It is time for our new Congressman to stand up for common sense reforms that will reduce gun violence,” Gwen Markham, a local MoveOn.org member, said in a statement. “Congress can not wait for the next Newtown, Virginia Tech, Tucson or Columbine before taking action. Rep. Bentivolio needs to return to Washington and vote to protect our children and our community. We urge Bentivolio to stand up against gun violence.”
On Tuesday, March 12 a second hearing, a part of a four-part series, on gun violence and school safety was held at the Oakland County Board of Commissioners office in Pontiac. The informational hearing included educational panelists to speak from a school perspective. Future hearings will also include discussion topics of mental health and gun rights with panelists including a U.S. Attorney, a former F.B.I. member and mental health experts.
Lansing Mayor Virgil Bernero and Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence joined the Mayors Against Illegal Guns campaign earlier this month. They were both featured in a PSA commercial featuring 30 mayors demanding that Congress take immediate action to prevent gun violence.
The rallies and support come at a time when gun violence and safety laws have drawn the attention of the national media after tragic events like the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
The rallies are urging Michigan political leaders as well as Michigan schools to take action against gun violence.
“It was very reassuring to learn that schools in our area are working to reassure that children can learn in a safe environment,” Commissioner Marcia Gershenson said. “I am a former schoolteacher and so the idea of what happened in Newtown is just such a shocking, horrible occurrence to me. I am so reassured that superintendents, schoolteachers and parents are all on the same page recognizing that children won’t learn if they don’t feel safe. It was a very important issue to me.”
The four-part series, “Curbing Gun Violence,” held by the Oakland County Board of Commissioners addressed issues related to gun violence like law enforcement, school safety and mental health.
The panel will address issues on a local and state level with Commissioner Bill Dwyer sending a report with the panel’s findings to the Oakland County Commissioners in June.
Dwyer says the report is likely to include a request for increased funding for mental health resources at the state and national level.
“I think where we have to go with this is we have to treat mental health; we have to look at the loopholes and the background checks,” Dwyer said. “I don’t believe any gun bans are going to serve any purpose. They tried to ban weapons with The Brady Law and it was ineffective for 10 years… the criminal elements are the ones that are going to get the weapons one way or another.”
Earlier this month The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Democratic-sponsored measures to expand the nation’s gun background check system and a Justice Department program that funds school security plans.
The bill lacks bipartisan support and Republicans have united in opposition saying that the bill might overburden gun owners and do little to reduce gun-related crimes.
At the local level however, Dwyer and Gershenson have said that the reaction to the recent push to control gun violence has been great.
“I’ve gotten a very positive reaction to this… I think people are tired of the gridlock in Lansing and in Washington,” Gershenson said. “I think each group wants to have their needs recognized rather then blame this on some one sector of the population.”
“We are united,” says Dwyer.