Gun Safety for Safer Communities

Every two hours in America, a child or teen is killed with a gun. In fact, in 2020, death by firearm overtook motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of death among children. More preschoolers under five are killed with guns than police officers in the line of duty each year. Those who witness mass shootings experience trauma long after their wounds have healed. Gun violence is a public health crisis that continues to cut innocent lives short while devastating communities.

No one should fear for their safety when going to the grocery store, the movie theater, or a concert, and no child should face each school day afraid that someone will harm them, their teachers, or their classmates. United Way works to support the health, education and wellbeing of children and families in our community, and gun violence is a clear barrier to advancing our mission.

While the shocking frequency of mass shootings has brought this issue to the forefront of public awareness, gun violence – and the threat of it – affects individuals in our communities every day through domestic violence, suicide, gun-related crime, and the traumas associated with incidences of gun violence.

  • Women are five times more likely to be murdered by their abusive partner when their abuser has access to a gun.
  • More than 90 percent of all women killed by guns in high-income countries were American women, and American women are 21 times more likely to be shot and killed than women in other high-income countries.
  • Nearly two-thirds of all firearm-related deaths in the U.S. are suicides, and guns are the leading method of suicide.
  • Gun-related suicide attempts result in death 85 percent of the time compared to just 3 percent for other methods.

In the wake of a deadly shooting at Michigan State University on Feb. 13, 2023, Michigan legislators took quick action on a series of bills to expand universal background checks and enact safe storage laws. We applaud the progress the legislature has already made in sending those proposals to the governor with bipartisan support, and we are encouraging equally swift action on the enactment of red flag laws in Michigan.

Red flag laws would establish an Extreme Risk Protection Order that allows family members, mental health professionals, law enforcement, and others to petition the court to bar someone from possessing or purchasing a firearm if they pose a risk of hurting themselves or others. The courts will consider history of violence and threats, mental illness, previous convictions, illegal use of controlled substances and other evidence to support their decision. If it is determined that an individual is an Extreme Risk, they will be barred from purchasing a firearm, prohibited from applying for a license for a firearm, and must surrender all firearms they possess.

Please join us and other community organizers and stakeholders of this issue in urging your elected officials to pass this bill package and create safer communities through the implementation of red flag laws in our state!
Dear X,

Gun violence is a public health crisis that has led to mass deaths and immeasurable community harm, with death by firearm becoming the leading cause of death for children in our country. The issue of gun safety has hit close to home for many in our community following the tragic shooting at Oxford High School in 2021 and recently at Michigan State University.

I am writing to express my appreciation for the quick action the legislature has taken in promoting gun safety by expanding background checks and enacting safe storage laws. I urge you to continue making meaningful progress toward reducing gun violence in our state by supporting SB 83-86, which would establish red flag laws in Michigan.

Gun violence is inextricably tied to domestic abuse as women are five times more likely to be murdered by their abusive partner when the abuser has access to a gun. Red flag laws are specifically designed to reduce this risk.

Together, universal background checks, safe storage laws, and red flag laws have all been found to be effective in reducing gun violence in other states. As gun violence has unfortunately impacted so many Michiganders on a personal level, I urge you to support this third piece of the common-sense series of reforms to create safer communities and prevent senseless gun deaths.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my thoughts on this important issue and for your service to our community.
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