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Statewide group rallies for new gun laws under Democratic-run Legislature

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio
A group of activists with End Gun Violence Michigan gathers at an event in Grand Rapids. It was one of seven events organized around the state on Wednesday.

Hailey Huggett said she felt like she’s living through a paradox.

“Here I am, missing school today,” she said, “to fight for the right to go to school without being killed.”

Huggett stood at a podium in Grand Rapids on Wednesday, wearing an orange T-shirt with the words “end gun violence.” She was speaking at one of seven events organized around the state to push for new legislation to regulate guns in Michigan. Organized by the group End Gun Violence Michigan, the events were meant to push for the new Democratic majority in the state legislature to enact laws Republicans rejected while they were in control.

The proposals include legislation that would:

  • Require locks on guns in homes with children
  • Require background checks on all gun purchases in the state, while closing an existing loophole
  • Give judges the authority to temporarily remove firearms from someone who poses a risk to themselves or others
  • Block domestic abusers from owning a gun

Rallies were held in Lansing, Detroit, Marquette, Saginaw, Kalamazoo, Oxford, and Grand Rapids on Wednesday.
At the Grand Rapids event, newly elected Democratic state Representative Kristian Grant told activists she knows that calls for new gun legislation have gone unheeded before.

“Well you have friends in Lansing now,” Grant said. “Not just people who hear you but people who are speaking the same language as you I look forward to standing with all of you as we create laws that focus on keeping children, families and communities safe.”

Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in her inaugural address that “common-sense” gun legislation will be on her agenda for the current term in office.

And activists on Wednesday said they would continue to push for the legislation, to make it clear that it’s still needed.

Huggett, the high school sophomore, said she wakes up terrified that she might face a shooter at her own school.

“Do you remember how you were taught to stop, drop, and roll in case of a fire?” Huggett asked. “Well we are being taught to run, hide, and fight in case of a mass shooter. I shouldn’t have to say out loud that this is absolutely crazy.”

Huggett talked about living through active shooter drills at her school in Holland, how she wakes up terrified that she might some day face the real thing, though the adults at her school tell her not to worry.

“But how are we supposed to not worry,” Huggett asked. “I wonder if that’s what they told the students at Oxford, Uvalde, and so many other schools.”

Dustin Dwyer is a reporter for a new project at Michigan Radio that will look at improving economic opportunities for low-income children. Previously, he worked as an online journalist for Changing Gears, as a freelance reporter and as Michigan Radio's West Michigan Reporter. Before he joined Michigan Radio, Dustin interned at NPR's Talk of the Nation, wrote freelance stories for The Jackson Citizen-Patriot and completed a Reporting & Writing Fellowship at the Poynter Institute.