Detroit — In the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in United States history, some Metro Detroit law enforcement and advocates are stressing the need to explore measures locally and nationally to address gun violence.
Issues surrounding safety in public spaces in the wake of the massacre in Las Vegas were at the forefront of a Friday night panel discussion in Detroit. Nearly 60 concertgoers were killed Sunday and over 500 injured when a gunman opened fire on a crowd during a country music performance.
“I will guarantee you that there was not one person who went to that concert in Las Vegas who thought for one second that they were in danger. … ,” Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon told an audience gathered Friday at the Detroit Foundation Hotel.
“Until we do something about this gun violence that exists in this country, it can and it will happen to someone close to you.”
The threat of gun-related brutality anchored the forum led by the Caliber Foundation. The nonprofit works to support victims, families and communities affected by gun violence across the country.
Jessica Mindich, who launched the group, noted federal authorities have found guns factor into many homicides and crimes recorded in the Motor City.
“If the city isn’t safe and people don’t want to be here, the city can’t thrive,” she said.
Her group has also collaborated with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office on a gun buyback program that gathered hundreds of weapons and plans another event this year, she said.
Mike Bruggeman, director of campus safety and security with the College for Creative Studies, highlighted community-based initiatives such as Project Lighthouse, which he helped form. The program links more than 30 Detroit businesses to offer shelter, aid, safety, information and potential lodging for those needing temporary assistance.
Friday’s panel was planned long before the Las Vegas attack.
Investigators have yet to figure out what motivated the gunman, Stephen Paddock. The high-stakes gambler killed himself as police closed in on his 32nd-floor room at the Mandalay Bay resort.
His preparations included stockpiling 23 guns, a dozen modified to fire continuously like an automatic weapon.
Napoleon said Friday he supports the Second Amendment but wants policies that advocate responsible gun ownership.
“There are some weapons that just don’t belong in the hands of non-military or non-law enforcement people,” he said. “...When you put weapons like that in the hands of people who should not have them, we’re all in danger.”
The panel encouraged attendees like Detroiter Gail Phillips, who has worked to enhance safety in her neighborhood.
“It’s not going to straighten out or get better if we don’t get involved,” she said.
The Associated Press contributed.