Gun Safety FAQs

On Nov. 30, 2021, four students were killed and seven people, including a teacher, were injured in a mass shooting at Oxford High School. In response to this devastating incident in our community, we issued this statement. Unfortunately, just a few months later the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde Texas took the lives of 19 children and two teachers, and injured 17 others. These incidents, after years of other incidences of mass violence across our country, became the catalyst for our organization to move forward with adding this language to our Policy Agenda:

Gun violence in the United States is a crisis that continues to cut innocent lives short and devastate communities. No one should fear for their safety when going to the grocery store, the movie theater, or a concert, and no child should face each school day afraid that someone will harm them, their teachers or their classmates. To address this crisis, United Way for Southeastern Michigan will:

  • Partner with experts on the issue to identify opportunities to leverage our network and platform to drive meaningful impact on this issue.
  • Actively advocate for common sense reforms that will reduce the risk of gun violence to our children, in our classrooms, and in communities.

Then, our community faced yet another significant loss less than a year and a half after Oxford when three students from Southeastern Michigan were killed, and five additional students injured, during a mass shooting at Michigan State University. After this incident, we knew that something needed to be done, and our CEO, Dr. Darienne Hudson, issued this statement acknowledging that it is time to take action.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is United Way advocating for gun safety laws?

  • United Way works to support the health, education and wellbeing of children and families in our community.
  • Gun violence stands as a clear barrier to advancing our mission.
  • Gun violence has become a public health crisis that continues to cut innocent lives short while devastating communities.
  • No one should fear for their safety when going to the grocery store, the movie theater or a concert, and no child should face each school day afraid that someone will harm them, their teachers or their classmates.
  • Students cannot be expected to learn and grow if they fear for their lives every day. Communities cannot be expected to thrive when gun violence is present.
  • United Way seeks to ensure that all members of our community feel safe from gun violence.
  • What does the data tell us about gun violence?

    Gun Violence and Children
  • In 2020, death by firearm overtook motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of death for children.
  • More preschoolers under five are killed with guns than police officers in the line of duty each year.

    Domestic Violence
  • Women are five times more likely to be murdered by their abusive partner when their abuser has access to a gun.
  • More than 90% of all women killed by guns in high-income countries were American women, and American women are 21 times more likely to be shot and killed than women in other high-income countries.

  • Guns are the leading method of suicide in the U.S., accounting for half of all suicide deaths.
  • Attempts of suicide by firearm result in death 85% of the time, compared to just 3% for other methods such as drug overdose.
  • What are the proposed laws that would improve gun safety and reduce gun violence?

    The Michigan legislature has proposed three packages of bills designed to reduce incidences of gun violence: Universal Background Checks, Safe Storage, and Red Flag (or ERPO) laws.

    What will the Universal Background Checks bills do?

    Universal background check laws expand the licensing requirements to possess and purchase pistols to apply to all firearms, require a license for purchasing any firearm, and apply these requirements to purchases made by private sellers. This closes a loophole that currently allows buyers to avoid background checks at auctions, at gun shows, or online.

    Why is this important?
  • A 2015 survey found that nearly 1 in 4 Americans — 22% — who acquired a firearm in the two years prior did so without a background check.
  • One study found that 96% of persons convicted of a violent crime who were legally prohibited from owning a gun purchased their gun from a supplier not required to conduct a background check.
  • What are Red Flag Laws?


  • Establish an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) to reduce likelihood of domestic violence, suicide, and other violent actions.
  • Allows family members, mental health professionals, law enforcement and others to petition the court to bar someone from possessing or purchasing a firearm if they pose a significant risk of hurting themselves or others.
  • The court will consider history of violence and threats, mental illness, previous convictions, illegal use of controlled substances and other evidence to support its decision.
  • If an ERPO is issued, they will be barred from purchasing a firearm, prohibited from applying for a license for a firearm, and must surrender all firearms they possess.

    Why this is important
  • Under Indiana’s ERPO, one life was saved from suicide for every 10 firearm removals.
  • Connecticut’s and Indiana’s extreme risk laws have been shown to reduce firearm suicide rates in these states by 14% and 7.5%, respectively.
  • What will Safe Storage laws do?


  • Designed to keep firearms out of reach of children by establishing safe storage requirements and penalties for failure to properly store.
  • Require that anyone with a minor in the home or where it is reasonable a minor could be in the home to store their firearm in a locked box or container or to keep it unloaded and locked with a safety device.
  • Creates a misdemeanor for failure to safely store or secure a firearm if a minor obtains access to that firearm.
  • Establishes a felony if a minor gains access to a firearm not properly stored and uses the firearm to injure themselves or someone else.
  • Creates an exemption for sales and use tax for firearm safety devices.

    Why this is important
  • Households that locked both firearms and ammunition were associated with a 78% lower risk of self-inflicted firearm injuries and an 85% lower risk of unintentional firearm injuries among children and teens.
  • It’s estimated that if half of households with children switched to locking all their guns, one-third of youth gun suicides and unintentional deaths could be prevented, saving an estimated 251 lives in a single year.
  • States with laws that hold gun owners accountable when children access unsecured guns saw an 8% decrease in overall suicide rates, and an 11% decrease in firearm suicide rates, among adolescents aged 14 to 17.