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Wednesday, March 13,2013

Gunning against legislation

Lansing elected officials say bill would put guns in the “hands of criminals”

by Sam Inglot
Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero joined a panel today opposing pending statewide legislation opponents say would make it easier for criminals to obtain guns. Sam Inglot/City Pulse

Monday, Dec. 3 — At a press conference today inside the Capitol, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero had some potent words for a bill he and other opponents say would make it easier for criminals to obtain guns.

“I’m here today because we in Lansing have buried one too many young persons as a result of gun violence,” Bernero said. “We’re looking for help, we’re looking for sanity — not the kind of thing that is contained in this outrageous, ridiculous and asinine bill.”

The bill that’s catching flak from the mayor is HB 5225, which was introduced by Rep. Paul Opsommer, R-Dewitt. It passed the House in June by a 74-36 vote with bipartisan support, including from Lansing state Rep. Barb Byrum. The bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in September. It’s waiting on a vote in the Senate.

Federal law requires licensed gun dealers, like gun shops, to run a background check on all gun buyers. But unlicensed private dealers, like those selling online, do not have to. Michigan law fills in that loophole by requiring all handgun buyers to pass a background check before receiving a permit to purchase, as well as pass a basic firearms training exam.

HB 5225 would eliminate those requirements in Michigan. Opponents of the bill, like the Michigan State Police, say elimination of the requirement would make it easier for criminals who are not permitted to own guns to obtain one through a private dealer.

Rep. Joan Bauer, D-Lansing, voted against the bill in June.

“If anything, we should be doing more to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, not making it easier,” Bauer said. “It’s a public safety issue. I support the Second Amendment but this is not a Second Amendment issue. This is just about keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and people who shouldn’t have guns.”

Today, Bernero formally joined the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition, an organization of over 700 mayors across the country against gun violence and promoting community safety through strong, well-enforced gun laws and data usage.

“As a byproduct of this bill, I’m a new member of the coalition … and I’m not a quiet member of anything,” Bernero said. “The bill basically creates a big fat loophole that will allow felons and criminals to get guns where they currently cannot. I’m certainly worried what it would mean for Lansing.”

Today’s panel against HB 5225 also included Flint Mayor Dayne Walling; Detroit Police Department Deputy Chief Michael Falvo; Michigan State Police Sgt. Chris Hawkins; chief of investigations for Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office James Bivens; executive policy director of the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence Kathy Hagenian; and Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

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