MICHIGAN, USA — On the fourth anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, as well as in the wake of the Oxford High School shooting, a newly-formed statewide committee launched Monday, Feb 14. and unveiled its plan to prevent gun violence.
The 'exploratory' committee is called End Gun Violence Michigan. According to its website, its goal is to consider and decide whether a gun safety ballot initiative is possible in 2024.
During a Zoom teleconference Monday, Kiley Myrand, a Junior at Oxford High School spoke about the devastating day she lost her friends and classmates.
"Trying to take mental notes of who I saw or get a text back from, my heart sank when my friend Tate did not text me back. Unfortunately, our friend Tate had not texted anyone back," Myrand said. "Tate had a very bright future and much like Hannah, Madison and Justin did, his precious life was taken decades too soon and it breaks my heart to think about."
The newly-formed coalition made up of Michigan leaders, including faith-based ones, say they can no longer stand idly by.
"If the legislators won't act, then we're ready to put on our marching shoes and get our clipboards and put gun violence on the ballot," said Jayanti Gupta, student at Troy International Academy East and member of March For Our Lives Michigan.
The group is calling changes that respect the rights of gun owners, as well as keeps children alive and safe, like bills that would call for universal background checks, safe storage, red flag bills for domestic violence, end open carry of rifles and long guns and ban guns in government buildings.
"If the speaker of the house and the senate majority leader fail to have hearings or fail to vote, we may be looking for a ballot initiative for 2024," said Bishop Bonnie Perry of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan.
"As a survivor and as a mourning 16-year-old girl, something needs to change now. I personally believe the first step in this battle and safe storage gun laws. Change must happen," Myrand said.
Two mothers who lost their children to gun violence also spoke during the teleconference.
“These measures are popular, even among gun owners. We can pass sensible reforms that will save lives and respect gun owners' rights,” said Mia Reid, the CEO of the Charles W. Reid Community Help Center, named for her son who was killed by gun violence 10 years ago.
“It's just common sense. 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," she said.
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