At Michigan State University, students, faculty and staff are not allowed to have guns on campus under any circumstances, but firearms are still able to be brought onto campus in the case that a visitor has a permit. Students Against Gun Violence hope to change this policy.
Students Against Gun Violence was formed in February, and is completely independent of other groups that advocate for policy change around firearms. In April, they spoke to the MSU Board of Trustees and discussed changing the wording of the policy.
MSU is one of the only major public universities in Michigan to base their policy on state law. The University of Michigan, Central Michigan University and Western Michigan University all have a no tolerance policy for firearms on their campuses.
The club was formed by social relations and policy junior Elizabeth Lancaster and sophomore Brian Krause. The two wanted to join an organization that was related to gun control advocacy when they began at MSU, so when they didn't find one, they made their own.
"A lot of more liberal organizations support gun reform and support ending gun violence in a way that's been described," Krause said. "But we really wanted a position that was dedicated to this issue, that was really solely focused on educating our peers and making sure that gun reform is a prevalent issue on our campus, in our state, in our nation."
What started as a club to discuss gun reform turned into something directly related to the campus and its need for policy change.
Political alignment doesn't protect you from gun violence, so the organization stresses that the issue of gun reform is non-partisan.
"Everyone is affected by gun violence," Krause said. "It's something that impacts us right at home, especially with school shootings — that's a very specific example. There are a lot more examples of gun violence but the most newsworthy, the thing that gets reported on so much is school shootings, a particularly horrific form of gun violence. So we all watch the news, we all see these shootings happening and it's really an issue that hopefully everyone can get around on."
The goal of the group is to enact change before it's too late. Lancaster said what bothers her about gun policy is that it's primarily reactionary, meaning laws aren't changed until something — like a shooting — occurs.
"So many bills get passed once it's too late for other people," Lancaster said. "This can't be a thing where people are allowed to have guns on campus at the cost of other peoples' lives. This can't be a policy that changes because something terrible happens."
Whether it's speaking to the board or spreading awareness around campus, the goal is to prevent situations before they can arise.
"I think a lot of people have this idea that they'd be safe, and they'd be fine, and that this doesn't happen at MSU for whatever reason, but it could," Lancaster said. "I'm not trying to be cynical about it, but 100%, this is something that could happen here."
Students Against Gun Violence meets Tuesdays at 7 p.m. in room 335B of Case Hall.