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January 16, 2013

Mayor to push for ‘common sense’ gun laws in D.C.

By Jessica Strachan
C & G Staff Writer

SOUTHFIELD — Mayor Brenda Lawrence is headed to Washington, D.C., this week, demanding members of Congress pass “common sense” gun laws. Jan. 16 is the day that more than 60 mayors from across the country will advocate for solutions to gun-related tragedies.

“I support the Second Amendment right of our citizens to bear arms, but I also strongly support the requirement of thorough background checks and registration procedures that will help to protect all American citizens,” Lawrence said in a press statement. “We must work more diligently to keep guns out of the hands of those (who) are not responsible members of society, while not penalizing responsible, law-abiding citizens of their constitutional rights at the same time.”

After the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting, Mayors Against Illegal Guns sent a letter to the White House and each member of Congress with three concrete proposals to prevent gun-related violence: requiring background checks for all U.S. gun sales, including the millions of “private” sales conducted on the Internet, at gun shows and in other locales; enacting common-sense restrictions on the purchase and transfer of military-styles weapons and high-capacity magazines; and making gun trafficking a federal crime and establishing enhanced penalties for gun traffickers.

Since tragedies like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School Dec. 15, which left 20 students and six adults dead, those calling for stricter gun control have placed even more urgency on the matter.

On Dec. 17, Rev. Charles Williams II, pastor at King Solomon Baptist Church in Detroit and president of the National Action Network’s Michigan chapter, held a prayer vigil and small rally outside Southfield’s Action Impact gun shop.

“Activists came together from the National Action Network to quite frankly send the message that we need tougher gun restrictions. If we can get more guns off the street, we can decrease crime,” Solomon said, noting other areas where progress should be made to reduce crime, such as in the field of mental illness, jobs and the drug market.

“We support Mayor Brenda Lawrence and her going to contribute to the many voices across America that are screaming for tougher gun restrictions.”

Inside the shop, owner of Action Impact, Bill Kucyk, said he’s on board with making sure gun sales are done the right way.

“I personally believe everyone should have a background check,” Kucyk, a retired Oakland County police officer and attorney, said. “This issue is almost foreign to me; I’ve never sold a gun without a background check. We’re all against illegal guns here, and I’m certainly against guns falling into the hands of criminals.”

At his store, he said, gun sales have doubled recently, partially from locals who are concerned about their safety and others who may be fearing that the government will soon limit their ability to purchase firearms.

Every customer receives free training with his or her purchase, and Kucyk said that, as a licensed dealer, he’s a top advocate for gun safety.  He also added that he’s never been to a gun show because of their nature.

“I want to make sure that the firearms I sell are in a controlled and organized environment,” he said. “I don’t just throw guns across my counter.”

  One key gun-control bill, the Fix Gun Checks Act, H.R. 137, has already been re-introduced in Congress, and several more are scheduled for introduction in the coming weeks. According to the mayor’s office, Lawrence asked her representatives in Congress to become original sponsors of H.R. 137 or the Senate companion, which requires background checks for all sales and also improves the reporting of important mental health records into the county’s gun background-check database.

Mayors Advocacy Day is led by the national, bipartisan Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Jessica Strachan at jstrachan@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1108.