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Detroit Metro Times

Michigan students plead with lawmakers to pass more gun control laws

By Steve Neavling,

Students in Michigan speak out about the need for gun control.

They’re young, angry, and scared.

A group of Michigan students spoke out Tuesday about the need for gun control following the mass shootings at Oxford High School and Michigan State University.

“Everyday we lose someone we love or someone close and it’s all because of gun violence,” said Taylor Jackson, a junior at Dearborn High School. “This has to stop.”

The news conference follows legislation introduced by Democrats in the state Senate just three days after the massacre at MSU on Feb. 13. The legislation would require background checks and safe gun storage, as well as enable courts to temporarily seize guns from people deemed a danger to themselves or others.

Julia Begley, a sophomore at Oxford High School, said the bills “are only the beginning” of what’s needed. But the legislation is a critical first step, she said.

“By passing these bills we will be able to ensure a future and a life for the youth of America,” Begley said.

Students questioned why it took a mass shooting to prompt an urgency in passing the legislation. Republicans shelved similar bills in the past. But now Democrats have control of the Legislature for the first time in nearly 40 years and are poised to pass the bills.

“I wanted to give thanks to legislation in my speech, but I realized that legislation does not deserve thanks and praise,” MSU sophomore Joseph Majeed Kesto, who is also the communications and outreach manager for the university’s chapter of March For Our Lives, said. “There should have been laws to prevent the occurrence of gun violence set in motion to protect my classmates Arielle (Anderson), Brian (Fraser) and Alexandria (Verner). I should not be here giving this speech. I should be in class, hanging out with my friends, worrying about what I’m going to eat tonight, not if I will make it home safely.”

The teenagers also called for more accessible mental health care for students and survivors of gun violence and said additional legislation is needed to ban assault weapons, prevent domestic abusers from buying firearms, improve data collection and analysis on gun violence, and increase education on gun safety.

“Current gun laws are not enough to keep me, my friends, classmates, and loved ones safe,” Majeed Kesto said.

Eric Spragins, a sophomore at Southfield High School for the Arts and Technology, said his 16-year-old friend was shot last year while walking down a street.

“We have to do better. We can do better,” Spragins said. “We cannot continue to go down a path where our lives are being put at risk. I spend more time in lockdown drills than actually studying and getting education at my school.”

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