Detroit Evening Report: Whitmer launches task force to address gun violence in Michigan

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FILE - Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords watches as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says she will sign gun safety bills once they are sent to her by the Legislature in March 2023.

FILE - Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords watches as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says she will sign gun safety bills once they are sent to her by the Legislature in March 2023.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is establishing a gun violence prevention task force for Michigan to address and reduce instances of gun violence in the state.

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The announcement comes less than a week after nine people were wounded during a mass shooting at a splash pad in Rochester Hills.

“Michiganders deserve to feel safe everywhere — whether they’re picking up their kids from school or grocery shopping for the week ahead,” said Whitmer in statement after signing the executive order on Thursday.

The Michigan Gun Violence Prevention Taskforce is expected to identify the root causes of gun violence, compile and report relevant data and recommend policy changes, according to the executive order.

“We must evaluate what we have done, what we are doing, and what more we can do to reduce gun violence and save lives,” states the order.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Michigan had just over 1,500 firearm-related deaths in 2022.

The taskforce will serve as an advisory group with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The group includes various state agency representatives and other stakeholders.

“This includes experts and community leaders who are working together to find effective ways to reduce gun violence,” said Maya Manuel, organizer with End Gun Violence in Michigan Coalition.

Manuel formed Sitdown MSU, a student led organization focused on ending gun violence, following the February 13 mass shooting at Michigan State University.

“I really hope that people view this as an effective solution,” said Manuel. “And potentially, this can bring the work together in one place in Michigan.”

Those interested in joining the gun violence prevention taskforce can apply online through July 18.

Reporting by Michelle Jokisch Polo, WKAR Public Media

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  • Hernz Laguerre
    Hernz Laguerre Jr. is a Multimedia Journalist at 101.9 WDET. He is one of the co-host for "Detroit Evening Report," one of the weekend anchors for "Weekend Edition," the producer for our political podcast, "MichMash," and reports on arts, culture and politics.
  • Michelle Jokisch Polo
    As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community. Michelle is also the voice of WKAR's weekend news programs. Michelle joined WKAR in August 2020. Before joining WKAR, Michelle was the inclusion reporter at WGVU Public Media, covering stories of people at the intersections of racial justice immigration reform, criminal justice system reform, reproductive justice and trans and queer liberation. Michelle began her career as a journalist as the head reporter at El Vocero Hispano, the largest Hispanic newspaper in Michigan. Michelle has a master's degree from Grand Valley State University and a bachelor's degree from Calvin University.