Commentary: Remembrance

February 9, 2024

As the nation grapples with the firearm epidemic, MSU College of Human Medicine students directly impacted by gun violence on their own campus are using their role as future physicians to advocate for change.

The following story refers to the violence our community experienced on February 13, 2023, and may be disturbing. Support resources and assistance are available through multiple campus programs.

One year ago, on the night of February 13, 2023, students, faculty, and staff across Michigan State University campuses received a series of notifications: "Run, Hide, Fight!” During those dark hours, three Spartan students were killed. Five additional Spartans were transported to Sparrow Hospital in critical condition, while the greater Spartan community was left with irreparable trauma.

Participants of the student-led vigil light candles near the Rock. Photo by Brennan Mahokey.It has been one year as our community continues to heal. The days in which active shooter drills were only practiced are long gone. Gun violence has become our new reality. We are tired of running, hiding, and fighting. But, Spartans will move forward.

In the wake of this tragedy, the Spartan community came together and organized candlelight vigils, participated in student-led protests, and demanded state legislators not settle for “thoughts and prayers.” A group of MSU medical students asked themselves, “What else can we do?” This call to action began with a letter, signed by 732 medical students across Michigan, urging state legislators to vote in favor of gun-sense laws. Through collective efforts, Michigan passed several foundational gun sense laws (House Bill 4945, Senate Bill 79, Senate Bill 80, Senate Bill 471, Senate Bill 528).

The Michigan legislation was on the right side of history in 2023, but work still needs to be done. Therefore, Spartan MDs will advocate.

As future physicians, our prescription for a healthier world includes patient empowerment. We encourage patients, community members, and families to engage in firearm safety conversations. Research has shown that asking about firearms and safe storage in the home significantly reduces the number of accidental firearm-related deaths. Further studies have indicated the importance of putting time and space between firearms and a person at risk of a firearm injury or death– this includes but is not limited to persons with active suicidal ideation, past suicide attempts, substance use disorders, and cognitive decline such as dementia.

Since the MSU mass shooting one year ago, there have been an additional 621 mass shootings across the US. Firearms continue to be the leading cause of death among children and adolescents. As future physicians, we refuse to stand idle and watch gun violence continue to kill our patients and destroy families. Spartan MDs will save lives.

Gun violence continues to be pervasive within our society, and as such, we must protect future generations.  As medical students and future doctors, we believe firearm safety counseling is within our scope of practice. As a community, we can work together to normalize conversations about firearm ownership and safe storage, ultimately preventing another life lost to gun violence.

As medical students, Spartan MDs will empower. We encourage the great state of Michigan to prioritize community health and safety.  What can you do within your local communities to reduce firearm-related injuries and deaths? Consider the following:

1. Secure firearms unloaded in a locked container (safe or lockbox) or with a locking device, especially in the presence of children on the premises.
2. When inviting children to your home or visiting other’s homes, ask about or disclose whether there are firearms in the home and if they are safely stored.
3. Discuss safe firearm storage practices with your doctor.
4. Connect with your doctor for mental health resources.
5. Support the efforts of local nonprofits that aim to reduce firearm-related injuries and

The above recommendations are ways to initiate conversations about firearms and create a culture of safety and health. This is about fostering compassion and resilience in our community. Discussing firearms and health shows deep respect for an individual’s life and goes beyond politics.

Spartans will build stronger and safer communities.

Spartans will persevere.

Spartan Stadium at sunrise. Photo by Nick Schrader.

If you are looking for more information about firearm violence prevention, feel free to email

Written by: Jasmanpreet Kaur (MD Candidate, C/O 2024),  Elliane Siebert (MD Candidate, C/O 2025), Donovan Dennis (MD Candidate, C/O 2026), CJ Whitford (MD Candidate, C/O 2027), Daniel Singh (MD Candidate, C/O 2027), and Jordan Simon (MD Candidate, C/O 2027). 

Acknowledgments: We would like to Darian Mills, MD; Jasmanpreet Kaur, Tyer Sadilek, Amanda Schoonover, Donovan Dennis, Elliane Seibert, and Rebecca Miller, who organized the Michigan Medical Students Call to Action: End Gun Violence for their advocacy work and leadership. Thank you to the 732 medical students who supported the efforts of the SAFE at MSU CHM chapter.