Leaders of Gun Violence Prevention Speak
January 27, 2016
Warren, Depietro and Baldwin
Under a wood paneled ceiling, simple candles in glass jars rested on an orange tablecloth; live, sweet piano music twisted around people, some wearing orange, some holding orange signs. One said, “#ENOUGH.”
It was Dec. 13, 2015, in Ann Arbor at the Friends Meetinghouse. People were gathered for the Interfaith Community Vigil. On a flyer for the event it stated the purpose of the event: “[T]o honor victims of gun violence to find support for taking action on the 3rd anniversary of the Sandy Hook School shooting.”
People took turns lighting the candles. Face up on the table was a map of the United States, showing where mass shootings had occurred in 2015.
Michigan State Senator Rebekah Warren attended and spoke at the vigil. “More than anything, I want people to know that this cannot be our new normal,” Warren said in an interview. “It cannot be our new normal that every week we become desensitized to gun violence.”
Warren is currently working pieces of legislation which relate to preventing gun violence. One piece has to do with making places like hospitals, schools and day-cares weapons free zones. She introduced this legislation after someone came to a Pioneer High School choir concert with a visible gun. Warren is hoping to close the loophole in certain legislation which states you cannot conceal carry in specified areas. “Some have interpreted that to mean that you can carry open,” she said.
Present at the event was Leslie Depietro, the legislative lead for the Michigan Chapter of the organization Moms Demand Action (MDA). Depietro explained what the organization hoped that the outcome of the event would be. “To promote solidarity around the issue of Gun Violence Prevention,” she said. “And to provide community awareness around this issue.”
Lynn Baldwin, the Communications Lead for the Michigan Chapter of MDA, also attended. “I would like to see a culture where guns are not the norm, and I’d like to see common sense legislation, and I’d like to not worry about my six year old being shot,” she said.
U.S. Senator Gary Peters (Michigan) said in a statement via email: “I’ve strongly supported legislation to expand background checks to private sales of firearms at gun shows or over the internet to make it more difficult for the seriously mentally ill or dangerous individuals like convicted felons and domestic abusers to get guns. I also support efforts to curb ‘straw purchasers’ who buy firearms on behalf of individuals who are prohibited from purchasing them, which is how many guns on the streets make their way into the hands of criminals. I agree with the President’s actions to take commonsense steps to reduce gun violence, and I am disappointed Congress has not been able to act on policies that are supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans. There is no single solution to ending gun violence in America, but I believe Congress should put partisanship aside and work together to help prevent future tragedies.”
Retired Ann Arbor physician Jerry Walden has had patients who have been affected by guns. One of them, Tamara Stewart, died after being shot in an Ann Arbor neighborhood in 1995.
Walden is the co-founder of the organization, Physicians for Prevention of Gun Violence. “Gun violence is a public health problem,” he said.
Initially, Walden wondered where the voice of physicians was and why they weren’t acting on the issue of gun violence in the U.S. In the past, Walden pointed out, physicians have worked with cigarettes and seat belts.
To find members to add to the organization, Walden went around to different medical groups beginning around the time when Gabby Giffords was shot in 2011.
“I think that shooting and killing somebody is a terrible thing to do and hopefully, nobody wants to do that,” Walden said.