Rallies held at state capitol over gun legislation

Proponents of universal background checks, red flag laws, and safe storage gathered at the state capitol, and a few gun rights advocates were also present.
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 10:55 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 15, 2023 at 12:30 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WNEM) - Proponents of universal background checks, red flag laws, and safe storage gathered at the steps of the state capitol, and a few gun rights advocates showed up to protest the event.

This week, state Democrats are expected to present an 11-bill gun safety package that includes safe storage laws, universal background checks, and extreme risk protection orders.

“It is so difficult. Because it is not the natural order of life, we are not supposed to be burying our children!” said Mia Reid who lost her 24-year-old son to gun violence.

Her emotional speech was part of a gun safety rally in Lansing. Proposed gun control measures are working their way through the state legislature. Wednesday’s event was put on in support of bills that would create red flag laws, require universal background checks on all gun purchases, and mandate the safe storage of firearms from children.

“We are making progress, long overdue,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is eager to have gun control legislation on her desk. “We are done only offering thoughts and prayers. It is time for action.”

The rally was put on by former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords was shot in the head back in 2011 in an attack that killed six people and wounded 13 at a supermarket near Tucson, Arizona.

“Our lives can change so quickly. Mine did when I was shot,” Giffords said.

She travels around the country fighting for laws to reduce gun violence.

“Change doesn’t happen overnight. I can’t do it alone. Join me, let’s move ahead together. Amen!” she said.

The rally had its detractors.

John Parkinson, gun rights activist, and founder of 2A Uncompromised, believes the legislation being considered is unconstitutional.

“The second amendment isn’t for sale. Our rights can’t be legislated away. They’re unalienable,” Parkinson said.

At the rally, Parkinson and a Michigan State mass shooting survivor met face to face.

At Wednesday's rally, a gun rights activist and a Michigan State mass shooting survivor met face to face.

“The minute somebody opened that door from the outside, people jumped up and started screaming, and I thought I was going to die,” said Michigan State student Timberlyn Mazeikis

She is referring to the night of the mass shooting on campus in February that killed three students and wounded five others. Mazeikis was in a room where the doors wouldn’t lock. When they opened, she thought she was living her final moments.

“There’s no peace. There’s no fear. It’s just clarity. And it’s real life slapping you in the face,” she said.

Mazeikis attended Wednesday’s gun safety rally in Lansing.

Parkinson said he opposes many aspects of the legislation, starting with universal background checks.

“I have a CPL. I’m a firearms instructor. I’ve been background checked. But now I got to be background checked some more,” Parkinson said.

Parkinson also opposes red flag laws.

“Basically, I’m guilty before I’m innocent. I’m going to have to prove myself innocent before I can have my firearms back? And who knows if I’m getting any of them or all of them back,” he said.

Lastly, he doesn’t agree with safe storage of firearms either.

“Safe storage is going to make my gun unavailable when seconds count,” he said.

Parkinson and Mazeikis had an encounter on the capitol lawn after the rally was over, and while they disagree with each other on this issue, they took time to pray about the loss Mazeikis was feeling.

“We don’t wish that on anybody. That’s the thing, people think gun people wish that on people. We don’t wish that. We’re not out shooting people. We’re out here to protect ourselves and protect others,” Parkinson said.

But Mazeikis said the way things are being done aren’t working, insisting the passage of this legislation can help reduce the senseless loss of life to gun violence.

“I think people just have to keep fighting. They can’t stand back and wait for the next shooting to happen. Because we waited too long and now there are three of my classmates dead,” she said.

Meanwhile, state senator Kristen McDonald Rivet, said the series of bills are getting closer to Whitmer’s desk.

“We’re hoping to move them out of the Senate this week. And our goal is to have a package of bills to the governor before spring break,” McDonald Rivet said.

McDonald Rivet said the legislation could be presented to Whitmer by March 28.

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