Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

January 6, 2013

Local checks were a protection

In the legislative frenzy to loosen Michigan gun laws, a long-established step that has over the years prevented loads of people who probably shouldn't have a gun from buying one legally has been eliminated — and we're less safe because of it.

A bill signed by Gov. Rick Snyder does away with a long-standing requirement that those who want to buy a handgun from a store must first obtain a permit from their local law enforcement agency. Grand Traverse County Sheriff Tom Bensley and Traverse City Police Chief Mike Warren said local law enforcement checks are much more thorough than the national background check that is now the only hurdle for those wanting to buy a handgun. That check used to apply only to those who were buying a rifle or shotgun.

"We have access to a lot more background, history and information ..." Bensley said. "We do a more thorough check."

A sheriff or police chief could deny a permit based to those who made repeated threatening comments or displayed aggressive behavior or had repeated minor run-ins with the law that wouldn't show up in the federal check.

Gun advocates said the old system was too subjective. Gun rights activist David Bieganowski said the federal system is good enough and too many people who should have gotten a permit were denied in part because enforcement officers tend to assume the worst.

When the issue is allowing someone to buy and carry a handgun, that's probably a good thing.

This is just one less protection we have from people who should not, for a variety of reasons, be armed.

Despite all the pro-gun propaganda to the contrary, an armed society is not a polite society, just a more dangerous one.

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