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Fatal Shooting of 4-Year-Old in Detroit a Tragic Reminder That Gun Violence Continues Amid the Pandemic

On Wednesday, a 4-year-old boy, Nathanial Mesiah Roby-Townsend, was shot and killed when someone fired shots into his home in Detroit. According to media reports, Roby-Townsend was taken to a hospital and later died. 

As COVID-19 continues to disrupt the lives of Americans around the country, daily gun violence has continued  — and Michigan is no exception. Due to historical systemic inequities, both public health crises disproportionately affect Black communities.

“Even amid this pandemic, gun violence continues to leave Michigan families reeling,” said Megan Dombrowski, a volunteer with the Wayne State University Students Demand Action. “My heart goes out to Nathanial’s family as they mourn an unimaginable loss. Lawmakers should work to pass common-sense gun safety bills while they are back in session.”

According to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), the number of background checks conducted in Michigan during April 2020 was 33 percent higher than in April 2019. An Everytown analysis of the NICS numbers also estimates that gun sales rose 114 percent during the same time period. 

Here’s more on gun violence in Michigan:

  • On average, nearly 1,200 people die by gun violence every year in the state.
  • Black people are 21 times as likely as white people to die by gun homicide in the state. Of all homicides in Michigan, 75 percent involve a gun.
  • In Michigan, gun deaths have increased 16 percent in the last decade. And although gun homicide has decreased 3 percent in the same time period, gun violence continues in Michigan communities.

Statistics about gun violence in Michigan are available here, and information on how Michigan’s gun laws compare to other states’ overall is available here.