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Whitmer creates task force aiming to prevent gun violence in Michigan

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday signed an executive order establishing the Michigan Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.

By Jon King, Michigan Advance - June 20, 2024
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Gretchen Whitmer

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday signed an executive order establishing the Michigan Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. 

While the action comes less than a week after a mass shooting in Rochester Hills, Whitmer says the task force will build on last year’s enactment of several gun safety statutes, including expanding background checks, initiating safe storage requirements, creating extreme risk protection orders, and strengthening penalties for those convicted of domestic abuse

“Michiganders deserve to feel safe everywhere — whether they’re picking up their kids from school or grocery shopping for the week ahead,” said Whitmer. “That’s why I’m establishing the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, aimed at reducing the rates and instances of gun violence in Michigan. … I want to thank all of the Michiganders who have been strong advocates for reducing gun violence, including the families of the four Oxford students, for working with us to get this done. Together, we can reduce violence and save lives.” 

The Rochester Hills shooting incident at a splash pad, in which nine people were injured, including two children, ages 4 and 8, was on the minds of the families of Tate Myre, 16, and Hana St. Juliana, 14, who were among the four students killed in the 2021 Oxford High School shooting.

“Just this past weekend, a community not too far from Oxford was the latest to endure another mass shooting. These tragedies have become all too common, but they cannot be the norm,” said the Myre and St. Juliana families. “We must honor the memories of our children, and all those who have been impacted by gun violence, by taking action now. We thank Governor Whitmer for working with us on this important step towards ending gun violence through upstream systemic change.” 

The executive order houses the Michigan Gun Violence Prevention Task Force within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). According to a release, its mission is to “identify the root causes of gun violence, compile and report relevant data, maximize existing resources, solicit perspectives from diverse stakeholders, and recommend policy to save lives.”

The task force is expected to include a wide range of stakeholders including state department directors, medical experts, law enforcement professionals, tribal representatives, and others.  

Those wishing to apply for an appointment are directed to do so online by July 18.  

The task force was also applauded by local members of Moms Demand Action, which rallied last month in downtown Lansing seeking additional measures to control gun violence.

“Last year, we passed a policy to disarm domestic abusers — a policy that could have saved our daughter’s life. We know it’s of paramount importance to not only pass gun violence prevention policies, but to also have them properly implemented,” said Rick and Martha Omilian, volunteer leaders with the Michigan chapter of Moms Demand Action and Everytown Survivor Fellows. “The importance of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force truly cannot be understated, especially for survivors and loved ones of victims of gun violence.”   

The creation of the task force is one of several steps Whitmer has taken through her executive authority, including launching Operation Safe Neighborhoods, a statewide crackdown aimed at getting illegal guns out of communities, an initiative championed by Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist.

“Too many Michigan families across our state have lost loved ones to the tragedy of gun violence,” said Gilchrist. “As Michiganders, we can’t accept this as the status quo.”

This story was originally published by the Michigan Advance


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