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January 24, 2013

Michigan leaders torn on gun-control issue

Mount Clemens shop owner experiencing increase in gun sales

By Julie Snyder
C & G Staff Writer

MOUNT CLEMENS — In response to President Barack Obama’s sweeping federal gun-control proposals in the wake of last month’s shootings in Newtown, Conn., including a ban of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, local representatives in the Senate and House offered differing views, voicing both support and concern.

Senator Carl Levin, D-Mich., said he strongly supports the efforts the president outlined on Jan. 16 to curb the gun violence that he said plagues the nation.

“I have long supported legislation to restore the ban on assault weapons,” said Levin in a statement. “I also have supported closing the gun show loophole to strengthen the background checks that keep weapons out of the hands of criminals, terrorists, domestic abusers and other dangerous individuals. I support our police agencies, who have implored us to make these changes.”

While the battles over gun-control legislation continue brewing on Capitol Hill, a Mount Clemens gun shop owner said there are little changes to be made, should the president’s proposals become laws.

Tammy Bansullen, owner of DGS Fine Firearms, which has operated for the last four years inside the Gibraltar Trade Center in Mount Clemens, said she abides strict background check laws for all firearms, and no weapon leaves the premises without a clear history.

When asked if she foresees any changes in her policies, should there be laws that require tightened background policies, Bansullen was speculative.

“Not unless they implement new criteria,” she said. “I don’t know what else they could ask for.”

Bansullen said she requires that customers fill out a 15-question sheet providing information about everything from past convictions and past and current drug use to legal residency. She said background checks take anywhere from five minutes to 10 days. DGS sells a wide range of firearms, like single shot .22s, sporting guns, hand guns, AR-15s and shotguns, including trap and skeet.

She said firearm sales have increased considerably at her business since the general election.

Referring to the Dec. 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, where 26 people, including 20 children, were killed, Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, said it’s unfortunate that the Obama administration is focusing so much on the method used instead of the root cause of why it happened.

“The murder of innocent children in Newtown, Connecticut, was a heinous act that demands action to better protect our children,” Miller said in a statement.

“The vast majority of firearm owners in America are law-abiding citizens simply exercising the right of self-defense for themselves and their families guaranteed by the Second Amendment of our Constitution. I cannot support that effort,” she said. “Criminals, by their very definition, do not care what the law states, so the only people impacted by stricter gun laws are those who seek to obey the law, not violent criminals. The fact of the matter is that there are already numerous laws in this nation protecting against the unlawful use of firearms that are simply not enforced. If the Obama administration and states across the country want to reduce the criminal use of firearms, it is time to start prosecuting those violations to the full extent of the law and take the guns out of the hands of criminals by putting them behind bars.”

Miller said that, if government truly wants to stop instances like what happened at Sandy Hook, leaders must look into all of the issues that may have contributed to the problem.

“The issue of an inadequate mental health system in this country that has failed to identify those who may commit these types of heinous acts before they happen and treat them effectively,” Miller said in her statement. She said there should also be more focus on issues of violent video games and violent movies that desensitize children toward violence and death. “Nothing we do will stop those disposed to violence if we do not attack the root causes of these tragedies.

“It is also disappointing that the president has not put forward a plan to take decisive action in improving a mental health system that has allowed these types of potential killers to fall through the cracks, only to allow them to carry out violent attacks,” she continued. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House on legislation that is designed to truly protect our children without diminishing the constitutional right of law-abiding citizens.”

Levin, in his statement, disagrees.

“The steps the president outlined are important in protecting Americans, while respecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners,” he said. “The president is right. It’s time for us to act, and Congress should do so.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Julie Snyder at jsnyder@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1039.