Michigan activists, officials march against gun violence in Detroit

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — State Rep. Brenda Carter says her nephew was in the right place at the wrong time when he was fatally shot while walking to the store in Grand Rapids in July 2007.

Ten years later, while on her 2017 campaign trail, she received a call that her son was shot. He survived, but lives with a disability, unable to work or provide for his three children, she said.

"The devastation that went through our family is with us today," Carter said. "The pain does not go away, whether you bury them or watch them depreciate into nothing because they can't put food on the table for their families. ... We must put an end to gun violence."

Carter shared her story with 300 people who gathered Saturday in Spirit Plaza wearing orange for National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

State Rep. Brenda Carter, right, whose nephew was killed and her son shot due to gun violence, marches in the Wear Orange March.

Advocates with the Michigan chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Students Demand Action and CeaseFire hosted the rally to honor the lives of those affected by gun violence.

Volunteers and Michigan elected officials marched in solidarity carrying portraits of victims who were fatally shot, and signs reading "Arms are for hugging," "Funds not guns in schools," and "Disarm hate" as they marched downtown.

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib joined the rally in orange saying she’s supporting the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019, a bipartisan bill, in hopes it will decrease gun-related deaths in major cities like Detroit.

She said gun-related deaths were at an all-time high in 2017, nearly 40,000 lives lost with Michigan accounting for 1,100 of those deaths.

"Our children should feel safe in their schools, we should feel safe in our homes of worships," Tlaib said. "Gun violence seems to have become a new normal in our country. ... It's not normal that our children have to learn about gun violence in kindergarten, first grade, second grade. We all know it doesn't have to be this way."

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, address the 300 present for the Wear Orange March in downtown Detroit.

Tlaib said she's piggybacking on safe storage laws, trigger lock requirements and assault weapon bans. She's also standing with Congresswoman Lucy McBath on the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of 2019, preventing people who pose a threat to themselves and others to possess firearms.

"I am supporting these laws unwaveringly and I will deter gun violence by supporting and standing up against the massive special interest groups that try to dilute our voice," she said.

Council President Pro Tem Mary Sheffield said gun violence continues to take a toll on families, and the leading cause of death among African American men between the age of 15 and 34 is homicide with a firearm. 

"Far too often we see the headlines of young men and young women losing their lives to senseless gun violence in our city," Sheffield said to the crowd. "I don't know about you all, but I'm tired of going to prayer vigils for our young women and men losing their lives in the city of Detroit. 

"We stand here today in solidarity ... pausing to honor the victims, families and all who have lost their lives for gun violence in this country. Let us make a change."