Protest with 70 pairs of shoes at State Capitol represent domestic violence victims killed by guns

Every year about 70 women and children are killed by their abusers. On Thursday supporters gathered in Lansing to honor domestic violence victims and call for change.

Seventy pairs of empty shoes were ceremonially placed on the Capitol steps in Michigan representing victims who will never walk this earth again domestic violence victims killed by a gun.

"Families that have been torn apart," said Celeste Kanpurwalla, Moms Demand Action Michigan. "Children who’ve lost a parent, parents who have lost children, and dreams that have been shattered."

The assemblage of shoes stands in silent testimony as a stark reminder of the lives at stake. A visual tableau of the 50 women and 20 children on average who advocates say die this way each year.

"There is a clear, undeniable connection between domestic violence and firearms and then assaultive conduct that follows," said Attorney General Dana Nessel.

This poignant congregation of supporters, survivors, and stakeholders united under a shared purpose to end gun violence. They want to pass legislation in the State House and Senate that would prevent anyone convicted in Michigan of a domestic violence charge from possessing a firearm for eight years after they do time.

"We need to turn our pain into power, we need to turn our grief into laws, and our mourning into more organizing," said Tanesha Ash-Shakoor, Voices of Color. "Each shoe represents a failure by us as a society to protect survivors of domestic violence." 

Gun rights advocates like Rick Ector said he has worries about how the legislation might infringe on Second Amendment rights – especially because pinning down what qualifies as domestic violence can be difficult.

Also, Ector said eight years to him is an excessive amount of time. He also has concerns about people who may be falsely accused and railroaded by the system.