Gun violence prevention is complex and nuanced and we must work to ensure that the policies we advocate for are both effective and equitable
Gun violence is a public health crisis and the number one cause of death among children in the U.S. This crisis has been going on for so long that we have become apathetic to the tragedies we have created. All Michiganders deserve the freedom to watch a movie in a theater, shop for groceries, go out dancing, be in their place of worship, or go to school without being afraid that a person with a gun will open fire. We need common-sense gun safety laws so that we can enjoy our communities without the fear of being harmed. For all these reasons and more, Equality Michigan (EQMI) signed Progress Michigan’s Safe Storage and ERPO letter in support of gun violence reform.
Guns are deeply ingrained in American culture, and we lead the world in gun ownership. A 2018 study determined the US was home to only 5% of the world’s population but a full 44% of the world’s civilian-owned guns. The US also experiences the highest rate of firearm deaths, gun violence, and mass shootings of any developed country. Almost a third of US adults believe there would be less crime if more people owned guns, according to an April 2021 Pew survey. However, multiple studies show that where people have easy access to firearms, gun-related deaths tend to be more frequent, including suicide, homicide, and unintentional injuries. On top of that, there are 120 guns for every 100 Americans, according to the Switzerland-based Small Arms Survey (SAS). No other nation has more civilian firearms than people.
We have an opportunity, and a need, to create change especially given how prolific gun violence is in America. Gun violence prevention solutions must be both practical and equitable all while addressing the root causes. In 2019, the number of US deaths from gun violence was about 4 per 100,000 people. That’s 18 times the average rate in other developed countries. Multiple studies show access to guns contributes to higher firearm-related homicide rates. We need our laws to progress so that we all can live in safe communities and have equitable access to the resources we need to live healthy lives.
No issue exists in a bubble, especially gun violence. Emme Zanotti, Director of Advocacy & Civic Engagement for EQMI, highlighted, “The LGBTQ+ community has witnessed pervasive violence against Black and Latina trans women, as well as mass tragedies like Pulse Nightclub and Club Q, all at the hands of guns. We can’t approach policy with a dichotomy that says one group of things are ‘our’ issues and another group of things are not. There is a lengthy list of broader structural issues that disproportionately impact the community, specifically Black trans women and LGBTQ+ people of color. Common sense gun violence prevention is very much on that list.” EQMI partners with pro-LGBTQ+ individuals and organizations to ensure lawmakers and the public are educated on the laws, policies, and regulations needed to achieve and protect LGBTQ+ equality in Michigan.
This includes common-sense gun violence prevention policies to keep our communities and children safe. We now have an opportunity to finally move gun safety policies in Michigan. It’s critical that the bills we pass are both equitable and effective and do not disproportionately criminalize low-income and communities of color. Common sense gun violence prevention policies like safe storage, extreme risk protection orders (ERPO), and expanding background checks have overwhelming support from Michiganders across the state regardless of political affiliation or gun ownership and are a priority for Michigan’s leaders. This isn’t an impossible problem, it’s been done by a majority of other countries and provides us with a blueprint of what we need to do to create a safe future for everyone. If we continue to sit idle, 19,000 children and teens will be shot and killed or wounded and approximately 3 million exposed to gun violence every year. To take action through Progress Michigan: https://progressmichigan.actionkit.com/letter/help-create-safer-michigan-all_v2/