The Lawmakers in the Wolverine State who are pushing to get rid of state background checks for pistol purchases have a simply but convincing argument to justify the policy change. That is, it comes down to redundancy.
As Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) told local news affiliate WILX, “Why do duplicate work, the police departments have enough to do already.”
Sen. Jones is, of course, referring to the Michigan’s “permit-to-purchase” process, which currently requires prospective gun buyers to undergo both a state and federal background check.
HB 5225, which has already passed through the state House by a vote of 74 to 36, would streamline the purchasing process by removing the state background check requirement. HB 5225 would also, if passed by the Senate and subsequently signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder, make the following changes, as the NRA-ILA pointed out:
• Repeal the state requirement to seek police permission to purchase a firearm by traveling to a local police station and obtaining a permit to purchase.
• Repeal the requirement for a law-abiding citizen to register a legally purchased and owned firearm with the government through the police.
• Adopt the use of the federally-funded National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
• Cut Michigan’s costs by using the federally-administered national instant background check system and eliminate wasted man-hours of tracking lawful gun owners in Michigan.
• Default to the federal standard of prohibited persons and require a background check for each purchase.
While it seems that there’s widespread support for the bill, HB 5225 does have some detractors.
In particular, the Michigan State Police Department is worried that if HB 5225 becomes law, it will open up the floodgates for gun sales to criminals and the mentally unstable.
Sgt. Christopher Hawkins told WILX that 47% of pistol purchases are done through private sellers, not FFLs. Under federal law, private sellers are not required to run background checks on prospective buyers (though, it’s in violation of the law to sell a firearm to someone you know or have reason to believe is a criminal).
“A convicted felon or wanted fugitive would no longer have to find a covert way to purchase a pistol anymore. They could purchase at any private transaction or at any gun show and they would know that they were not going to be subject to a background check,” said Sgt. Hawkins.
In the face of this particular criticism, Sen. Jones was undaunted, suggesting that the bill will be tweaked to allay the fears of law enforcement.
“Before the bill passes through the senate, the state police concerns will be addressed,” said Sen. Jones.
In the near future, the final version of the bill will go before the state Senate for a vote. We’ll keep you updated on its progress.