In The SpotlightNewsletter Highlights

An introduction from the author of this article:

I completed this article about gun violence just hours before the shooting at Michigan State University occurred. In some ways, the landscape has changed dramatically in the aftermath of this mass shooting. In other ways, however, the constant death toll of “every day” gun violence persists without change. The only difference is that this week it was punctuated by a high profile local mass shooting, one that is deeply painful and personal to so many of us who are connected to the MSU community.

My daughter is a first year MSU student who was on campus during the shooting. At 8:35pm Monday evening, I received a text message from her, “There’s a shooter on campus.” As far too many parents in this country have now experienced, this message was both surreal and nauseating. I desperately wanted it not to be true. I told myself it must be a false alarm.

It was no false alarm.

My daughter, along with three other students sheltered together in her dorm room in the dark. They pushed a dresser against the door as a barricade. For nearly four hours they sat together silently. Thankfully we were able to stay in constant contact by text messaging.

I thank God she is safe. She is safe but shaken. She is alive.

I am devastated for the families of Arielle Anderson, Brian Fraser, and Alexandria Verner, who were killed in the shooting. I am deeply saddened for the five students who were wounded and still in critical condition, and for their loved ones. I don’t know how to understand that pain, and I pray that I never will. I send my love to all whose lives have been shattered.

We simply cannot continue to live this way. Gun violence is an American nightmare and it is an American shame. It is also an American choice. We can do better and we must.


Gun Violence is Unrelenting but Preventable

By Sonya Lewis, MD, MPH

and Vice President of the Physicians for the Prevention of Gun Violence


Gun violence in Michigan is unrelenting. Our right to exist free from the fear of getting shot is constantly infringed.

This will continue to be the state of affairs until we, as a state, as a nation, and as a collective of (presumably) civilized humans, decide that we have had enough. We must recognize that the utter carnage and destruction that permeates our daily existence is unnecessary and preventable, and we must reject the gun lobby’s illogical and deadly messaging. Guns do not keep us safe.

We are so numb to living in this state of terror that many of us don’t even realize the urgency of this moment. Unless we happen to be personally connected with the victims, most of us are likely unaware that, according to the Gun Violence Archive, five Michiganders were fatally shot in the past week and 18 others were non fatally wounded (as of this writing, February 13th). This deplorable situation is simply the backdrop of our lives, a truly incomprehensible reality that should shock us to the core.

None of these shooting incidents made national news. We are so accustomed to acts of gun carnage that we fail to take notice, unless the violence is on the scale of Columbine or Sandy Hook or Virginia Tech or Aurora or Charleston or Tree of Life or Las Vegas or Pulse or Parkland or Buffalo or Oxford or Monterey Park or Half Moon Bay or El Paso or Uvalde or… you get my point.

I invite you to pause right now to think about it. These 23 individuals who were injured or killed in Michigan last week were all human beings with families, friends, and communities, not just numbers to cite in an article.

With this in mind, I would like to recognize those who died from gun violence in Michigan last week. Information is sparse, so important details such as names and specifics about the incidents may not be available at the time of this writing. Nevertheless, these individuals’ shortened lives deserve acknowledgment. As we focus on those who have died, let us also remember that those who survive gunshot wounds are left with a lifetime of physical and psychological trauma. Also, this list does not reflect those who died by gun suicide, which is the most common type of gun death in America.

  • A 24 year old male was shot and killed in Detroit, and two other people were critically wounded (names not listed) on Feb. 11th.
  • Devin McDonald, a 30 year old male, was killed in a Wyoming apartment complex on February 10th. Two other people were injured in the incident (one by gunshot) which is believed to be related to a domestic dispute.

American gun violence is unrelenting, but we do not have to accept it as inevitable. Let us honor the individuals mentioned above, along with all other victims and survivors by taking action on their behalf.

Passage of legislation such as Universal Background Checks, Red Flag Laws, Child Access Prevention Laws, a ban on assault style weapons, and protections for victims of domestic violence will help make us safer. We must vigorously support bills calling for these changes.

Ultimately, each of us must understand that the unchecked proliferation of guns is an immediate threat to survival. We are all vulnerable.

Please reach out to your elected officials today. Join a gun violence prevention organization that is advocating for reform. Do not remain silent or complacent. We are not powerless in this fight.

Please act now.

*Opinions shared in this piece represent those of the author.



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