Michigan Mayors Pushing for Changes in Gun Laws

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On the one month anniversary of the Newtown school shooting, a group of Michigan mayors called for action to end gun violence.

They're demanding universal background checks, a ban on military assault-style weapons and gun trafficking made a federal crime.

"We're facing an avalanche, we are having guns rain down on us and bullets are raining down on our citizens," Lansing Mayor, Virg Bernero said. "It has already been a terrible January in Lansing and we're not unique."

Joining with law enforcement, the mayors are asking for the federal government to step in. They want additional, legal means to curb what they call a growing list of gun-related homicides.

"There may be a day without one, but then the next day we have two," Flint Mayor, Dayne Walling said. "In the City of Flint we were shocked for a homicide to be perpetrated in a church, at a funeral this weekend."

Currently, federal law only requires background checks at federally licensed dealers. No background check is needed for private, online or gun show sales.

Gun rights advocates worry universal background checks would have unintended consequences, burdening law-abiding buyers who are looking to defend themselves.

"Anytime you have government that interferes in the market, you artificially drive prices up," Phillip Hofmeister, President of Michigan Open Carry said. "Taking away guns from good people isn't going to help solve the problem."

Hofmeister also takes issue with the mayors' push for a ban on military assault-style weapons and high capacity clips.

"These weapons do serve valid purposes, there are some people that hunt with them, there are sporting purposes, markmanship programs that use these," Hofmeister added.

Bernero doesn't see it that way. He wants those weapons banned and illegal gun trafficking as a federal crime.

"We've got to get serious in this country about tracking these killing machines and that's what they are," Bernero said emphatically. He says Newtown is all the proof we need.

"I can't imagine what else would be more of a call to action than that," Lansing Schools Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul said.

Bernero is also calling for additional mental health resources. He called mental health funding "woefully inadequate" and says we can't continue to cut the programs that could stop gun violence, before it starts.

There could be action soon on the national level. President Obama said Monday he is reviewing a proposal from Vice President Joe Biden, who is heading up a task force on gun violence.

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