GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — A coalition made up of domestic violence prevention advocates, violence survivors, faith leaders and lawmakers met in Grand Rapids and around the state on Monday to call on the state legislature to pass bills meant to keep domestic abusers from having firearms.
"I didn't want my son to ever witness a gun being held to the temple of his mother's head, both my son and I holding our breath waiting," violence survivor Gabby Dunai said as she recounted her own experiences with domestic violence at the hands of her son's father. "Would this be the last time I look into my son's eyes and his into mine?"
"I don't want what happened to me to happen to anyone else," Dunai went on to say. "So, I'm asking for leaders in Lansing: please listen to us, stand with us, don't ignore our stories and pain any longer. Please take action now."
Currently, Michigan law prevents those convicted of felonies from owning firearms for different amounts of time.
Under House Bills 4945 and 4946 and Senate Bills 471 and 472 introduced this month, the law would be extended. Those convicted of a misdemeanor involving domestic violence would also be barred from owning, possessing or distributing firearms for 8 years following the end of their sentence.
"There is a tie, too, between folks who commit domestic violence and have access to firearms, and the folks who go on to do mass shootings," said Megan Hennessey, the interim executive director Resilience - Advocates for Ending Violence. "So, this isn't just a, you know, public safety issue for survivors, but a public safety issues for all people."
Monday's event was part of what organizers called a 'Day of Action,' with other groups rallying to echo support in cities across the state.
"I later found that [my ex-partner] had been charged with a misdemeanor [domestic violence], and that was throwing a brick through her window," violence survivor and Voices of Color President Tanesha Ash-Shakoor said in a Zoom with statewide advocates. "And as you see, me being the next victim, I was very- that definitely escalated, you know, to the point, now he possessed a gun, and he was actually going to murder me."
"I stand here or am on this Zoom right now to say I survived, but many don't get that chance to survive," Ash-Shakoor said.
Lawmakers at the events said, despite potential arguments against the bills stemming from second amendment concerns, they feel it's important to get the bills through.
"Myself and my colleagues, we're in support of you being a gun owner," State Representative Kristian Grant (D-Grand Rapids) said. "But once it's been proven that you may be a threat to others and a harm to others, then we have to do what we can to protect the people in our community."
These bills would still need to be passed through their respective committees in the House and the Senate if they hope to make it to final floor votes.