We Need More Than Thoughts and Prayers
The recent mass shootings at Michigan State University (MSU) is another in a long series of wake-up calls about the urgent need for the passage of state and federal laws to reduce gun violence - in Michigan and in our country.
We need “red flag“ laws allowing state courts to temporarily remove firearms from a person deemed a danger to others or themselves. Domestic abuse is a particularly important area in which red flag laws are needed. A woman is five times more likely to be murdered when her abuser has access to a gun. Suicide is another important area where red flag laws are needed. There were 49,979 suicides in the US in 2022 and suicides account for 54% of all firearm deaths.
“Red Flag” laws would help save women’s lives in family domestic violence situations, and they would save the lives of many individuals who pose a serious suicide risk.
We need Universal Background checks, mandatory waiting periods, and mental health restrictions for gun purchases. Eighty-eight percent of those surveyed in the US, including 85% of gun owners, favor universal background checks on weapon sales. Federal law requires background checks for purchasing firearms at licensed gun dealers. However only 40% of guns sold in the US are sold through dealers. In most states, gun sales at shows, flea markets, and private sales aren’t subject to regulations. Thirty percent of guns involved in criminal trafficking are connected to gun shows, where background checks aren’t required. In the 13 states that require a background check for private handgun sales, there are 48% fewer firearm suicides.
We must require all gun owners to safely store their weapons, and hold owners legally responsible for safe storage. All gun owners must store their guns unloaded, locked with no access to keys, ideally in a gun safe, with ammunition locked separately. We must stop children’s gun deaths and prevent 6 yr. old from shooting a teacher, as recently occurred in Virginia.
Assault weapons with high volume fire and large capacity magazines are exceptionally deadly and have been involved in 85% of US mass shooting fatalities. From 1994-2004, when the federal ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines was in effect, mass shootings were 70% less likely to occur than during the 13 years before and after the prohibition. I am qualified on combat assault weapons and don’t suggest banning all weapons, but we don’t need to bring dangerous weapons of war into our civilian society.
Please contact your legislators and urge them to strongly support efforts to save lives and protect our children. Minimally, Michigan should pass “red flag” laws, implement Universal Background checks, and have laws that require safe weapon storage. Ideally, banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines would also once again become the law of the land.
With new gun safety laws, we can start protecting our students’ lives and help alleviate their growing fear of just going to school.
MAJ USA (Ret.)