End gun violence group wants action

About 40 people attended a press conference in Oxford calling for “bold” action in Lansing to end gun violence. Photo by D. Rush

Oxford press conference calls for legislation in ‘first 100 days’

By Don Rush

About 40 people, including news media from around the state, joined survivors of the Nov. 30, 2021 shooting at Oxford High School, packed into the community room at the Oxford Village Offices last Wednesday afternoon. The majority of the people were from the group, End Gun Violence Michigan. They were in Oxford and six other communities — Detroit, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Saginaw and Marquette – calling for Michigan’s state legislature to act on gun violence in this term’s first 100 days.

The press conference lasted for about half an hour.

Former Oxford Middle School teacher Lauren Jasinski spends much of her time now trying to get “common sense” gun laws enacted in Michigan. Photo by D. Rush

Former Oxford Middle School teacher Lauren Jasinski was in class when the Nov. 30, 2021 shooting happened. She is now a member of the steering committee for End Gun Violence Michigan. Jasinski, then Oxford students Maddie Johnson and Dylan Morris, survivors of the shooting and co-founders of the group, No Future Without Today and Deleah Sharp of Identify Your Dream, spoke to the media.

Jasinski was the first to speak. She told of how she remembered hearing the shots while she was teaching her middle school students. “We are coming together to say enough is enough. I started teaching middle school in 2012, after the Sandy Hook tragedy . . . the inaction by our legislature has sent a clear message to students and teachers. ‘Gun violence is an excepted part of the public school experience.’ Gun violence is tragic, but totally preventable. No amount of training could have prepared me for what followed on Nov. 30, when I first heard the gunshots outside my classroom. I sheltered in place with the students where we had to wait nearly three hours, only able to hear calls for help, the sounds of first responders and the walkie-talkie chatter from the hallway. We had to wait in place, at a place we loved that was turned into a crime scene. We had our school taken away from us. We had our sense of safety taken from us. We had joy and celebrations taken from us. We had Justin, Hana, Tate and Madisyn taken from us. We shouldn’t have to be here. We shouldn’t have know what this road to recovery is like. We shouldn’t have known how to act with an active shooter that day. We shouldn’t have had to give two diplomas postumethly.

I am here today standing with students to turn our pain into action . . . elected officials have buried their heads in the sand while gun violence became the number one cause of death of children in Michigan and across the United States. But now we have an opportunity with Gov. Whitmer and the new legislature campaigned on policies to end gun violence. These legislators now have a mandate from their voters to take action. We are here to keep that promise alive and to call for common sense legislation including universal background checks, safe storage laws, extreme risk protection orders and laws to keep firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers. We must see action and we must see action in the first 100 days because our lives depend on it.”

Dylan Morris was in Oxford High School on the day of the shooting. He is now Executive Director for the group, No Future Without Today. Photo by D. Rush

Next to speak was Morris, Executive Director of No Future Without Today. He was in the high school on the day of the shooting. “The shooter was exiting the restroom shooting rounds into the hall . . . we grabbed make-shift weapons like scissors, tape dispensers, a hockey stick. Anything we could find at that moment. After embracing my family later that day I realized that Hana, Tate, Justin and Madisyn didn’t make it home. I was in denial for weeks. Wrestling with my thoughts and actions. I couldn’t make sense how this could happen in any school, let alone mine. School shootings are not normal, however, students, educators and parents have lived with this reality for the past 24 years. I have been questioning why Michigan didn’t already have life-saving measures in place and how it’s been 14 months since our tragedy and not a single thing has been done.”

He too, called for state politicians to act in 100 days.

Maddie Johnston, a student survivor of the Oxford shooting and a leader with No Future Without Today, was next to speak. As you may not know, I was in the hall with my friend Madisyn when it happened and we were separated in the chaos. All the classroom doors were closing, so I had no choice but to run for my life through the hallway until I found an open exit. When I got home I was frantically calling and texting my friends (hearing) back from all but one. The friend I had been with when it all started. I found out hours later that Madisyn Baldwin, one of my favorite people on the planet, was gone . . . I’m tired of people telling me how bad they feel or how sorry they are. I am tired of thoughts and prayers not backed by action . . . Very few people are willing to act to prevent future tragedies. I am here to express the importance of legislation that can save many lives because the youth of America were never intended to attend so many funerals . . . We cannot change what happened and we cannot bring Hana, Justin, Tate or Madisyn back. We cannot erase the trauma, grief we all experienced. We can however protect others from the horrors we have seen . . .We need bold action, not more kind words.”

Shooting survivor Maddie Johnston recalled the events of Nov. 30, 2021. Photo by D. Rush

All speakers pointed to bills that have languished in the state legislature for years without a hearing or a

vote, despite their overwhelming popularity:

Safe storage, which would require guns in homes with children to be locked safely away. When implemented in Florida, safe storage reduced youth firearm deaths by 51%.

Universal background checks for all firearm purchases.

Extreme risk protection orders, which would allow a judge to temporarily remove firearms from an

individual who may to be at risk for harming themselves or others.

Restrictions on the ability of domestic abusers to own firearms.

Find out more at endgunviolencemi.org

 

 

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