Michigan bishop joins governor, former Rep. Gabby Giffords at gun reform rally

By ENS staff
Posted Mar 16, 2023

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopal leaders are helping to fuel increased momentum for gun law reforms in Michigan, with Bishop Bonnie Perry speaking March 15 at a statehouse rally in Lansing alongside Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and anti-gun violence activist Gabby Giffords, a former Arizona congresswoman.

“As Michiganders we can do better,” said Perry, who leads the Diocese of Michigan in the southeastern region of the state. “We can pass these sensible gun laws, we can do better for our young people, we can keep them safer.”

Perry and Michigan’s two other Episcopal bishops have been leading voices behind the End Gun Violence Michigan campaign, which is pressing for the passage of several gun safety measures. They include legislation that would expand background checks for firearm purchases, toughen parents’ legal responsibility to curb children’s access to guns and implement so-called “red flag” measures when citizens are deemed a threat to commit violence.

Prospects for passage of such bills improved this year after Democrats won control of both houses of the state Legislature. Whitmer, also a Democrat, has identified gun safety as one of her priorities as well.

The governor, invoking a deadly shooting last month on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, said the days after the rampage were among the “heaviest and hardest” of her four years in office. Three students were killed and five were injured. The gunman was later found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“What can you say to a parent who’s lost a child to gun violence?” Whitmer said at the rally, according to a report by Michigan Advance. “What can you say to young people who are terrorized and terrified just to go to school? The good news is we do not have to live like this, and we will not live like this anymore.”

Giffords has become a prominent advocate nationally for gun law reforms since she survived a gunshot to the head in 2011 during a gunman’s rampage at a grocery store near Tucson, Arizona. The gunman, who killed six and injured 13 others, is now serving a life sentence in federal prison.

“Our lives can change so quickly. Mine did when I was shot. But I never gave up hope,” Giffords said, according to Michigan Advance. “I chose to make a new start, to move ahead, to not look back. … I’ve learned so much. I learned that people care for each other, and, working together, progress is possible.”