Traverse City Record-Eagle

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April 11, 2013

Changes may complicate some gun show sales

TRAVERSE CITY — Mel Smith estimates 90 percent of firearms sales at his gun shows require a background check.

For the small percent that don’t, between private sellers and collectors, transactions could become “awfully complicated,” said Smith, who owns PJS Promotions and will host a gun show in Traverse City at the end of April.

A bipartisan deal announced by two senators Wednesday would expand federal background checks to all commercial sales.

”What it’s going to do is it’s going to make it complicated for people who want to sell their old deer rifle,” he said, offering the example of someone selling an antique rifle from a family member’s estate.

Smith, of Bay City, thinks criminals will “buy from illegal sources anyway.”

Currently, sales with a federally licensed dealer require background checks, and checks are required for all handgun purchases in Michigan. Under the agreement reached in the Senate, all commercial firearms purchases at gun shows and over the Internet would be transferred through licensed dealers, who would retain records.

Private, not-for-profit transactions would be exempt.

The deal furthered the likelihood of a Senate debate on gun legislation as soon as Thursday.

Ed Lee, a former licensed firearms dealer in Traverse City, said proposed gun control laws miss the point.

”The real focus needs to be on mental illness because criminals are always going to be able to get guns,” he said. “I don’t think anybody wants to see anyone injured or killed, but at the same time, we’re basically letting criminals run free and we’re basically making things more difficult to the law-abiding citizen.”

Smith has collected guns for more than 30 years and said it bothers him that “there’s always a persecution of people who follow the laws.”

”You can’t stop criminal or mental behavior by passing laws that will only affect people who basically follow the law,” he said.

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