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Saline Mayor Among Officials Opposing New Gun Bill

HB 5225 would allow tens of thousands of handgun sales per year to proceed with no background checks, law enforcement and city officials say.

Saline Mayor Gretchen Driskell is among eight Michigan mayors who, with law enforcement leaders, have publicly expressed their opposition to Michigan House Bill 5225, a bill that would eliminate background checks for private-party handgun sales, which comprise nearly half of all handgun sales in Michigan.

“This bill would make it easier for convicted criminals and persons with severe mental illness to obtain deadly weapons, and make it more difficult for our police officers to protect themselves and our communities,” the mayors wrote in a letter to State Senate leaders and Governor Rick Snyder

According to a press release issued by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a national coalition, the bill has already passed the state House of Representatives, and it cleared a Senate committee vote earlier this month. A full Senate vote is expected as early as next week.

The mayors who signed, all members of the coalition, collectively represent more than one million Michigan residents. In addition to Driskell, they include Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje; Dearborn Mayor John B. O’Reilly, Jr.; Detroit Mayor Dave Bing; Flint Mayor Dayne Walling; Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski; Southfield Mayor Brenda L. Lawrence; and Ypsilanti Mayor Paul T. Schreiber.

HB 5225 is also strongly opposed by the Michigan State Police, the Michigan Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention and Treatment Board, and the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence, the release indicated.

Under current state law, a resident must pass a background check and basic firearms training exam to obtain a permit to purchase a handgun, the release indicated. This system blocks gun sales to convicted felons, domestic abusers, the severely mentally ill and others who are barred by law from purchasing guns. 

Under HB 5225, licensed firearms dealers would continue to conduct background checks, as required by federal law, but private sellers at gun shows and those who sell on websites would not be bound by this requirement. The release cited a statistic from the State Police that private sales account for 48 percent of all gun transactions in Michigan.  

Michigan State Police Director Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etue said, “This bill hampers law enforcement and endangers public safety because it eliminates the requirement of having a criminal background check for the tens of thousands of private handgun sales that occur each year."

She added that the legislation "also eliminates the state’s pistol registry, which is a critical crime solving tool that was utilized more than 21,000 times by law enforcement last year.”

Kathy Hagenian, Executive Policy Director for the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, said the legislation would remove "a vital safeguard for helping to keep handguns out of the hands of those who have perpetrated domestic violence." She said removing the regulation "could be the difference between life and death for domestic violence victims. Our elected leaders need to stand up to protect victims rather than taking a step backwards and jeopardizing their safety.”

The release also cited a survey by Republican pollster Frank Luntz, which showed 74 percent of members of the National Rifle Association agree that all gun sales should be subject to a background check.

“As Police Chief, my most important job is to keep the streets safe and protect our police,” said Ypsilanti Police Chief Amy Walker. “This bill makes that job much tougher by opening up a dangerous loophole that would give criminals, the dangerously mentally ill and domestic abusers easy access to handguns.  Eliminating background checks for private handgun sales is counterproductive to our goal of eliminating gun violence.”

Love All September 26, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Responsible, law abiding citizens should have no issue with having to register their handgun purchases or pass background checks to make such a purchase. This is no different than somebody being asked to see their drivers license to vote or purchase alcohol. Proper identification provides security to those providing goods or services that the people they are dealing with and selling to are LEGALLY able to do so. It is completely IRRESPONSIBLE for any legislator to allow the unfettered sale of handguns through loopholes such as this. When the Michigan State Police line up against this type of legislation, the message to everybody should be loud and clear... this legislation should NOT be passed.
Mark Crist September 26, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Ron, One mistake with your premise is that when you buy alcohol the police don't keep a record of what you buy. There is a history of these records being used to confiscate firearms that are determined to be illegal after they are acquired. The article states that the pistol registry has been used over 21,000 times by law enforcement. It's is similar to running your license plate. A better question would be how many times has use of the registry resulted in the conviction of a criminal offender. Very likely a smaller number.
Mike from Lodi September 26, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Mark Crist, you make an excellent point and I agree with you. Additionally gun violence by unruley individuals is the result of not having large-enough gun ownership as in the past. When the general population used to own and carry guns, we were safer -- the unruley individuals would not even think of being unruly with a gun!
Mark Crist September 26, 2012 at 08:34 PM
I think many people are stuck in the mindset that the only way to reduce gun violence is to restrict ownership of firearms by law abiding citizens. Perhaps we should look at other places with high gun ownership and low gun crime and see what we're doing wrong. Switzerland has a very high ownership of military grade assault rifles kept in the home, yet very low gun crime. What are they doing right?
Love All September 26, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Mark, are you suggesting that you see no issue with allowing convicted felons or the mentally unstable the ability to purchase handguns? Is there no limit to people you would see allow to purchase a handgun? Next, please provide the factual data to back up your assertion that "there is a history of these records being used to confiscate.. etc." And to follow up,, why would you have a problem having these weapons confiscated if in fact they were illegal in the first place? Exactly which side of the law do you stand on? Without accurate records of guns/ownership there would be no way for the police to track the legacy of such weapons used to commit crimes. Finally to you and Mike, if every man woman and child carried a gun, there is no proof that ANYONE intent on harming another with a weapon would be stopped BEFORE they chose to do so. Yes, there are instances recorded where someone carrying was able to take out the shooter AFTER, but not until they pulled out their weapon first and began their assault. Gang violence is a very good example of groups armed to the teeth that are still able to inflict great harm on the opposing gangs even though they too are well armed. I cannot fathom any rationale for allowing the sale of guns to be taken out of the hands of LEGAL gun dealers and removed to the dark corners of America. Doing so harms the businesses that rely on those sales and allows those that cannot legally purchase a weapon to do so without a trace. Ridiculous.
Dan September 26, 2012 at 11:13 PM
Our 2nd Amendment was put in place for a reason, it part of our Constitutional Right to Bear Arms .... HOW MUCH MORE BIG GOVERNMENT CONTROL DO YOU PEOPLE WANT... Move to the UK for God Sakes....
Dan September 26, 2012 at 11:16 PM
Texas does too Mark.... Texas a lot if people carry sidearms, the idiots know that their chances of getting shot are pretty good if they decide to Rob someone....
Love All September 27, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Dan, this is about the repeal of an existing law,, in effect weakening the laws already in place to keep criminals and others that do not enjoy the same rights that you and I do as law abiding citizens from owning guns. This has nothing to do with "more" of anything. This law will hurt the sales at legal gun shops we already do business with. Do you think convicted felons and the mentally ill should be able to own guns? The 2nd amendment allows all of us the right to bear arms,, nothing more, nothing less. I also legally own guns and do so following the established laws. I have nothing to hide and fear nothing from the government regarding my ownership.
Mark Crist September 27, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Ron, Felons and mentally ill persons are already prohibited persons under federal law. They have been since 1968. From what I've read of the registration law, it doesnt require you to go through a gun dealer to register your weapon. You go through your local law enforcement agency. So you arent taking work away from gun dealers. In fact, from what I'm reading it only requires the buyer to get a license and to register the firearm. There doesnt seem to be any hard data that the registry has prevented any prohibited persons from buying a firearm. I would bet that if they had numbers, they'd be bragging them up. Unless the numbers are so low as to suggest it's a waste of money.
Mark Crist September 27, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Ron, you're correct about people having to wait till someone initiates force first. That is the principle behind self defense. Almost all states limit deadly force to the need to protect yourself or others from death or great bodily harm. The criminals use offensive force. But in many cases, a citizen doesnt even have to fire a shot, the mere presence of the means to defend yourself and the will to use it makes the criminal rethink his priorities, usually resulting in the criminal leaving the scene at great speed. A much better outcome in my opinion than an innocent being hurt or killed.

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