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This week Michigan State University and surrounding communities were devasted by gun violence. As we mourn the three students that were taken from us, we continue to pray for the five students that are still receiving care at Sparrow Hospital. It pains me to watch the University that I love, the students, the faculty, the community in such pain. This week as we have begun processing what happened, I wanted to ensure we are taking the time to listen and to help people process their grief. Earlier this week my office shared resources available to students, faculty and residents who may need mental health services, along with assistance for parents on how to talk to their children about what has happened, and numbers to call if you have information to provide on Monday’s events. These resources will remain available on my website and will continue to be updated.

On Wednesday a group of students came to the Capitol to speak to us and to be in community with one another. One by one they spoke about their experience with the insidious reality of gun violence that has plagued their upbringing. They talked about the drills that they have gone through over the years to prepare themselves, but nothing could prepare them for what happened Monday night. These students who came to the Capitol steps and the thousands who attended the vigil on campus are grieving- they are mourning the loss of life, loss of their friends and the loss of safe spaces at the University that they love. They want to be seen, they want to be heard and most importantly they want those in power to do something to prevent events like this from continuing to happen.

My colleagues and I share the frustration that previous attempts to implement common sense gun safety measures were not allowed to move forward under Republican leadership. Because of the new leadership changes, we are acting now to pass common sense gun violence prevention measures.

Yesterday, Senate Democrats introduced 11 bills that would create:

  1. Extreme Risk Protection Orders: Also known as “Red Flag” laws, allow loved ones or law enforcement to ask a court to temporarily order the removal of guns from an individual who is at risk of harming themselves or others. These laws can deescalate dangerous situations and reduce gun violence, including suicides and mass shootings.
    • 19 states and D.C. currently have Red Flag laws in place.
  2. Safe Storage Laws: Would require firearms to be properly secured to prevent injury/death when the firearms could be accessible to minors. The bills create criminal penalties for failing to secure a firearm that is obtained by a minor and possessed in public or used in a reckless manner or to inflict injury or death.
    • 8 states and D.C. currently have laws requiring owners to secure their firearms. 15 states have child access prevention laws that generally make gun owners liable if they fail to secure a gun that is accessed by a minor.
  3. Universal Background Checks: The package of bills amends the Firearms Act, Michigan Penal Code, and Code of Criminal Procedure to expand regulations of “pistol” to “firearm.” Michigan’s current licensure and background check laws cover “pistols” rather than “firearms.”
    • Closing loopholes that allow the acquisition of firearms for criminal purposes will benefit all Michiganders. It would reduce gun violence and save lives.

There will be additional measures that we will look at through the budgeting process and we will look at other policy changes that can be developed after these initial 11 bills are signed into law. Please continue to share your ideas with our office.