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Students lead gun control town hall

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On April 7 the Washtenaw Youth Initiative led a town hall style meeting at Pioneer with local legislators to discuss gun violence. High school students Marquan Kane, Rosie Kendall, Zaynab Elkolay, and Kat Andrade spoke and moderated the discussion. Several local politicians including U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan), Michigan Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-53), Michigan Rep. Donna Lasinski (D-52), and Michigan Sen. Rebekah Warren were on the panel answering questions.

Several issues were discussed including the role that mental health plays in gun violence. Dingell pointed to the recent shooting at Central Michigan University in which a student left a hospital where he was being checked out for mental health problems, and then fatally shot his parents on the school’s campus. She cites a lack of mental health resources as an issue and talked about her own experience with this issue. “My father suffered from opiod drug addiction; his behavior at times was very frightening. I would call the police when my father was really out of control and we were hiding in the closet, and they wouldn’t even come,” said Dingell.

She said this makes gun control very difficult because often there is not a record that shows someone should not have a gun. She added that she thinks this issue is complex because many people suffer from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety and shouldn’t be stigmatized for their whole lives.

“It’s not easy and it’s not simple,” Dingell said,  “but we have to start the discussion and we have to support each other.”

Pioneer senior Henry Taylor, who helped organize the event, said that it was incredibly rewarding to see the group’s hard work pay off. “Elected officials all congregating at a high school to talk about the need for gun control was a wonderful occurrence. It is an excellent feeling knowing that the people representing Ann Arbor are wholeheartedly committed to seeing a safe environment not just in schools, but in all of society. It accomplished its goal of educating people on why we need gun control.”

 

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