Jessica Mathews /

Livingston County’s Congresswoman hosted a virtual town hall event this week centered on the tragic shooting at Michigan State University and legislation in the works to help keep children and others safe.

7th District Representative Elissa Slotkin also re-introduced her Safe Guns, Safe Kids Act this week - a bill requiring safe and proper storage of firearms in households to prevent children and others from illegally accessing the weapon. The bill was first introduced after the deadly mass shooting at Oxford High School in November 2021 and passed in the House in June 2022. Slotkin is further co-sponsoring the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2023 and the Assault Weapons Ban of 2023.

Slotkin stated the brutal attack on the MSU campus happened in two locations resulting in a chaotic manhunt and the death of three MSU students. Five others were injured and hospitalized – including 2020 Hartland Graduate Nate Statly. He remains in critical condition and a GoFundMe account has been set up for him.

Slotkin noted she held a similar town hall event almost exactly a year ago following the deadly shooting at Oxford High School. She was joined during the event by Michigan’s 13th District Senator Rosemary Bayer, who hails from Oxford and serves as co-chair of the bicameral Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention Caucus. Slotkin described her as a leading advocate for reform. Bayer is also among lawmakers who introduced legislation this week they say aim to encourage gun safety and help prevent acts of violence.

Following the tragedy in Oxford, both Slotkin and Bayer sponsored safe storage legislation and extreme risk protection laws – saying they’re “poised to make real progress in the state”.

Slotkin said she’s talked and met with dozens of students who have expressed a broad range of emotions – and those who experience trauma need time and patience to heal but students are finding their voice.

Slotkin asserted that gun violence is now the leading cause of death for people under 21 in America - more than car crashes and cancer – which is a fact unique to the USA. She said there are many reasons for that but the two in combination that are most deadly are easy access to guns and the mental health crisis going on across the country that’s been exacerbated by COVID.

Slotkin discussed red flag legislation as well as a need to enhance and increase mental health services, noting a lack of facilities and workers in the profession. She also talked about the needs of law enforcement and a bill she sponsored to classify 911 dispatchers as emergency responders.

Slotkin said she knows many feel very strong about their access to firearms and she believes basic legislation is needed at the federal and state levels that attempts to mitigate risk to kids. Slotkin highlighted the state’s long history of hunting, sportsmanship, and conservation – sharing that she not only grew up with guns but also carried as a CIA officer on three tours she served in Iraq alongside the military. She added there are many responsible gun owners who also believe in gun safety.

The virtual event had strong participation with over 250 questions submitted beforehand. Slotkin said around 400 watched live on Facebook and another 3,000-4,000 participated by phone. Questions were fielded from those of all walks of life including students, parents, grandparents, and others – as well as some from Livingston County.

Both Slotkin and Bayer encouraged people to attend future hearings on legislation and contact lawmakers to express their views – no matter what they are.

Since the MSU tragedy, Slotkin said she’s heard a lot from the silent majority of responsible gun owners and they need their need their voice as allies in this conversation because they want responsible gun ownership too - just like her family.

Slotkin said certainly in Livingston County there is no shortage of responsible gun owners who do their own private hobbies in their own private time safely, responsibly, and no one gets hurt. She stressed they need them calling their local representatives to help them get to the table on this. Slotkin said “We know we won’t agree on everything but come to the table and negotiate and I am open to any ideas that people have. And particularly from people who are passionate gun owners – that’s who we need to hear from the most and in Livingston County, that’s a big cohort of the population”.

A link to the town hall video is provided.