Friday, April 19, 2024

Whitmer signs gun violence prevention at Spartan Stadium, two months after campus shooting

April 13, 2023
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation to require universal background checks for firearm purchases and safe storage of guns during an event at Spartan Stadium on April 13, 2023. (Andrew Roth)
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation to require universal background checks for firearm purchases and safe storage of guns during an event at Spartan Stadium on April 13, 2023. (Andrew Roth) —
Photo by Andrew Roth | The State News

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was joined by members of the MSU community and gun violence prevention advocates Thursday morning to sign two of the three bills that make up the initial gun violence prevention efforts by the Michigan legislature. 

The signing took place at Spartan Stadium and was for two bills which pertain to universal background checks for gun purchases and safe storage regulations for firearm owners.

The third bill in the package, around “red flag” or extreme risk protection orders that would prevent people with a history of criminal behavior or mental illness from purchasing firearms, was passed by the Michigan House of Representatives today. 

Whitmer said the passage of the bills was long overdue in the wake of mass shootings at Michigan State University and Oxford High School. 

"Universal background checks will help keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals, domestic abusers and people on terrorism watch lists and no fly list," Whitmer said. "Safe storage helps ensure that children do not accidentally get their hands on firearms or ammunition in the home and cause harm to themselves or others."

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said he was grateful for the continued dedication of community advocates in curbing gun violence and lobbying lawmakers.

“We all know that every single person who dies a gun death dies a preventable death,” Gilchrist said. 

Alongside Whitmer and Gilchrist at the event were various lawmakers and sheriffs, as well as representatives from the gun control advocacy group Moms Demand Action and the MSU student body president Jo Kovach. 

Sen. Rosemary Bayer, D-West Bloomfield, who sponsored the bill which dealt with safe storage of firearms, said that while she regrets how long it took to achieve legislative action on gun violence prevention, she was “thrilled” to be present at the signing.

“Finally we're changing the laws to make sure that kids can't get access to guns and shoot themselves and the people around them, ensuring that gun owners take those basic safety measures that we all have been advocating for,” Bayer said. “We're going to make them take those basic safety measures to protect themselves and their kids every day.” 

MSU Student Body President Jo Kovach also spoke at the event, detailing the fear and grief felt by students during and after the mass shooting that took place on campus Feb. 13th. They said that the loss of Alexandria Verner, Arielle Anderson and Brian Fraser affected the entire campus community.

“All 40,000 of us are changed after that,” Kovach said. “And many of us are still trying to figure out what that means. Something that all 40,000 of us know is that we never want anyone else to have to go through what we've gone through.”

March for Our Lives MSU, or Spartans Against Gun Violence, board member Joseph Kesto said with the passage of the bills, he finally feels safe on MSU's campus. 

But Kesto said he is not satisfied yet and that there is more to be done.

"We've had some sort of change, but I am not going to celebrate because the legislature owes this to us," Kesto said. "We've been asking since Sandy Hook, we've been asking since Columbine."

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