MICHIGAN MAYORS JOIN LAW ENFORCEMENT TO OPPOSE DANGEROUS GUN BILL
HB 5225 would allow tens of thousands of handgun sales per year to proceed with no background checks
State Senate to vote on bill as early as this week; HB 5225 passed the House in June
Law enforcement leaders and eight Michigan mayors today came out in strong opposition to HB 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. The letter is available at http://mayorsagainstillegalguns.org/downloads/pdf
HB 5225 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 the opposition letter are all members of the national, bipartisan Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition and collectively represent more than one million Michigan residents. 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; Saline Mayor Gretchen Driskell; 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.
Under current state law, a resident must pass a background check and basic firearms training exam to obtain a permit to purchase a handgun. This system blocks gun sales to convicted felons, domestic abusers, the severely mentally ill and others who are barred by law from purchasing guns. HB 5225 would abolish this purchase permit system, eliminating a vital tool to prevent criminals from obtaining guns from private sellers. While licensed firearms dealers would continue to conduct background checks, as required by federal law, private sellers – who routinely appear at gun shows and post advertisements for guns on websites – are not bound by this requirement. According to the State Police, private sales account for 48 percent of all gun transactions in Michigan.
If HB 5225 became law, tens of thousands of private sales of handguns would take place each year with no paperwork and no questions asked.
“This bill dismantles Michigan’s carefully crafted background check system and eliminates a vital law enforcement tool,” said Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee, Jr. “Background checks are a critical component in keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and protecting our police officers and our communities. Unfortunately, this dangerous bill would put more of our brave men and women in harm’s way.”
Michigan State Police Director Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etue agreed. “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 said. Without this safeguard, there is no way to prevent convicted felons, the mentally incapacitated and other dangerous individuals from purchasing handguns in our state. This 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.”
"During my Administration, four Detroit police officers were shot by perpetrators using a shotgun that was legally sold without a background check. It is unfortunate that our legislature is now trying to eliminate background checks for half of all handgun sales," said Detroit Mayor David Bing. "We need all elected officials to stand up for public safety and make it tougher for illegal guns to infiltrate our community."
According to Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber, “Police budgets across the state of Michigan are being squeezed by budget cuts and property value decline. The Michigan state legislature is compounding the problem with HB 5225 by making guns more accessible to irresponsible people.”
“This legislation would eliminate background checks on private handgun sales, removing a vital safeguard for helping to keep handguns out of the hands of those who have perpetrated domestic violence,” said Kathy Hagenian, Executive Policy Director for the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence. “Existing Michigan law fills in gaps in the federal law, and helps protect victims by requiring background checks on all handgun sales. The removal of this reasonable 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.”
According to a recent survey by Republican pollster Frank Luntz, 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.”