Bernero: Handgun Legislation Outrageous, Ridiculous and Asinine

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Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero called legislation that would change state rules for handgun sales "outrageous, ridiculous and asinine" Monday, as he joined a coalition of other mayors and police fighting the measure.

It would toss out the state's permit requirements and according to law enforcement, make it much easier for a criminal to get their hands on a weapon. House bill 5225 would also do away with Michigan's pistol registry, a key police tool that helped lead to the arrest of the I-96 highway shootings suspect.

Supporters of the bill say it streamlines a cumbersome, redundant gun-buying process for legal buyers. State Police argue it may be well-intentioned, but contend it is not well-thought-out.

"This is a huge loophole, it is nothing but that," Bernero said. "It will put guns in the hands of criminals, there's no question about it."

While federal background checks are required for handgun sales at any federally-licensed shop, they're not required for private sales, which account for nearly half of Michigan's gun sales, according to state police.

"They're person to person, perhaps over the internet or maybe at a gun show, so for those particular sales this would not be redundant, this would be the only background check," Sergeant Chris Hawkins, with State Police said.

"The dirty little secret is that federal check does not apply," Bernero added.

Bernero says the legislation will likely increase illegal sales and bring even more violence to crime-riddled areas like Flint and Detroit. Of Flint's 56 homicides this year, the city's mayor says nearly all were committed with illegally owned handguns.

"The bill is dangerous, the bill is asinine, it's incredible to me that in the year 2012 we'd be talking about easing restrictions," Bernero added.

Currently, handgun buyers apply with a local law enforcement agency, undergo a background check and answer a few questions to get a permit they must take to the store or a private seller to make a purchase. At federally licensed shops, they also have to pass a national criminal background check.

Supporters of the measure argue that federal check is enough. They feel the state check is a wasteful duplication.

"In the process of getting things done quicker it's probably better to forgo it, just to do it once" handgun seller Darin Parsons said, but Parsons sees it both ways. He has no problem with the current system becasue he feels it holds people accountable.

The bill's sponsor State Representative paul Opsommer R-Dewitt was not available for comment Monday.

State police say the permit system has stopped 1,800 convicted felons and fugitives from buying guns in the last two years.

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