In the wake of yet another horrific school shooting, this time at Santa Fe High School in Texas, we are again shaken to our core, outraged over the ceaseless and senseless epidemic of gun violence in this country. As we have said too many times, thoughts and prayers are wholly ineffective in preventing the over 33,000 gun deaths that occur annually in the United States. We do not have to live like this, in perpetual fear and constant grief. We must continue to speak out, to act, to educate, and to vote for leaders who value human lives above their NRA sponsored political self-interests. We must not allow ourselves to succumb to despair or hopelessness. Here are two actions that we can all take immediately:
- Advocate forMichigan House Bill 4706/7, the Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) Bill.
This is a piece of legislation, introduced by Rep. Robert Wittenberg, currently sitting in the Michigan House Judiciary Committee that would prohibit the purchasing of firearms and allow for the temporary removal of guns from individuals who are at high risk of harming themselves or others. Multiple states have passed similar legislation, including Florida, whose legislature passed a similar bill following the February Parkland massacre. ERPO bills are sometimes referred to as Gun Violence Restraining Orders or Red Flag Laws.
PPGV Executive Committee member, Dr. Mac Whitehouse has drafted a template-letter that we encourage you to send to all members of the House Judiciary Committee. In order for Michigan’s ERPO bill to progress, it must first have a hearing. In order for that to happen, we must educate the Judiciary Committee members about its importance and utility in preventing future carnage. Below is the text of Dr. Whitehouse’s letter. At the end of this email, I have included contact information for each of the Judiciary Committee members. You can cut and paste the body of this letter into an email and send it to each representative. This should not take more than fifteen minutes. Thank you for taking this important action today.
Dear Representative _____________,
I am writing you regarding HB 4706-7. The bill would enact Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO) that allow weapons to be temporarily removed from individuals who, based on “a reasonable cause to believe”, pose a danger to themselves or others; this order would also prohibit these individuals from purchasing firearms. Importantly, due process is carefully outlined in this bill to protect the individual’s rights. As you know, this bill was presented in June 2017 and has sat in your committee since then without any consideration.
ERPO represents an important tool to protect individuals from using a gun to harm themselves or others during a period of personal strife. There are over 33,000 deaths every year due to guns in the United States. Importantly, two thirds of those deaths are suicides. Gun related suicides have increased 32% in Michigan since 1999. Attempted suicide is successful in 90% of cases as opposed to 10% when non-gun methods are used. The ability to remove access to guns from severely depressed individuals is critical in reducing gun-related suicides. A similar law was enacted in Connecticut. Researchers have estimated that one suicide has been prevented for every ten gun seizures since enactment of this law.
As a physician, I am often the first to identify persons at risk to committing harm to others or themselves with guns. This law will provide a vehicle by which I can help Michigan families save lives. I urge your support.
(YOUR NAME – and feel free to mention your affiliation with Physicians for the Prevention of Gun Violence)
- Join us at the Wear Orange Block Party in Ann Arbor on June 2nd!
PPGV is proud to collaborate with the Washtenaw County Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America to co-sponsor the Wear Orange Block Party on Saturday, June 2nd from 1 to 4pm at Liberty Plaza in Ann Arbor. Here is a link to the event on Facebook, which I hope you will share widely. I will be speaking at the rally, representing PPGV along with many other gun violence prevention activists. We hope to have a very large turnout to make it clear that our community has had ENOUGH gun violence and we are speaking out with a strong and unified voice. If you are in the Ann Arbor area, please join us and spread the word!
Thank you very much, as always, for your support of PPGV and your commitment to ending gun violence in our communities. We do not have to live like this, and we must not ever accept daily carnage as normal. We must be relentless in our pursuit of health, safety, and peace in a world free from the ever-present threat of gun violence. Together, we will make a difference.
Sonya Lewis, MD, MPH