GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.- Concerns over gun violence and the debate over gun control is heating up in West Michigan.
Jim White, a Grand Rapids City Commissioner, read a statement at Tuesday’s city commission meeting regarding ‘open carry’ in Grand Rapids and why he thinks the state should let local municipalities decide the rules for themselves. (Read his full statement)
This comes after statements made during public comment disagreeing with the mayor working to ban guns from public meetings.
Grand Rapids Pastor Jerry Bishop supports tightening the open carry law; Gina Wesseldyke from Well Armed Women disagrees.
They both have different ideas of how gun violence played a role in the recent gun violence in Grand Rapids.
“If you have more people legally carrying a gun, there’s not going to be as much crime,” Wesseldyke said. “It is a crime deterrent.”
Pastor Bishop says, “I don’t think that most people who are going to protect themselves are going to brandish a side arm. Most people who are brandishing a side arm have societal issues within themselves.”
It’s personal experience that shapes their views on gun control and open carry.
Pastor Bishop thinks opinions would change as soon as someone experienced the shooting of someone close to them. But, Wesseldyke says many women in her club have experienced shootings in their families.
What both Pastor Bishop and Wesseldyke do agree on is that all guns, whether they are legal, illegal openly carried or concealed are typically lumped together when it comes time for a debate.
“It’s happening far too often and we’re living so reckless that we don’t even have the compassion to say we need to do something about these weapons,” Pastor Bishops said.
“I’m sorry just because Jo Blow on the street that’s selling drugs has a gun that’s not a reason to lump everything all together because that guy got the gun illegally,” Wesseldyke said.
There is an ordinance in Grand Rapids that makes it illegal to openly carry, but it is not enforced because of a state law that allows it.
Read James White’s full statement about the Open Carry Law.