Gun control and ways to keep lethal weapons out of the wrong hands will likely be debated for a long time. Mass shootings throughout the country have escalated over the past few years and lawmakers are now scrambling to find a way to combat the problem.

 According to Michigan law (MCL 28.422), prospective purchasers of handguns must have either a handgun purchase license or a conceal carry license, both of which require a background check.

 There is no background check requirement for private sales of rifles or shotguns.

 According to abcnews.go.com, there have been three mass shootings over the past 20 years where guns were first purchased legally, and were then obtained by the shooters who were underage and would have been too young to procure a weapon on their own.

 That was the case in Columbine (April 20, 1999), where the guns were bought by people who are legally allowed — and in this case, old enough — to buy guns and then selling them to people who cannot legally buy them directly.

 By contrast, statistics show that of all the 17 shootings over the last two decades where 10 or more victims died, each involved legally purchased guns.

 The tri-county area has a number of individuals who operate in-home gun sale businesses. In Fenton Township, for example, four of them are seeking to renew their permits from the township’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) at its Oct. 22 meeting.

 According to Mike Deem, zoning administrator for Fenton Township, the Home Occupations on the agenda for the October ZBA meeting are for renewals of existing Home Occupation Permits.  For renewals, the ZBA looks to see if applicants are in compliance with any conditions, they may have for their approval and if there have been any complaints since their last renewal. 

 “When the township receives a request for a Home Occupation, the ZBA looks at how the use may affect the surrounding neighborhood,” Deem said.  “Typical considerations include the number of expected deliveries, increased traffic, if there will be on-site sales, etc.  For Home Occupations relating to gun sales, the ZBA asks about the number of guns to be kept, the amount of ammo, and the method of securing the guns and ammo.  If the ZBA grants approval for a Home Occupation for the sale of guns, the ATF and township fire department conduct in home inspections.”

 State Rep. Michael Mueller (District 51) said his research shows that private dealers, as well as private dealers who sell long guns, must undergo background checks for themselves. Further, to be a licensed private dealer, one also must obtain a Federal Firearms License (FFL) even if you’re selling from your own home. To obtain an FFL, you must first get approval from the local government and this is why these individuals are requesting hearings with the township.

Gun shows

 Gun shows are temporary markets for guns and ammunition, usually held at meeting halls or fairgrounds, according to findlaw.com. Unlike gun stores, both federally licensed dealers and unlicensed sellers can sell guns.

 The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) estimates on average 2,500 to 5,000 gun shows are held annually. In general, 25 to 50 percent of sellers are not licensed dealers.  The access to anonymous sales and the availability of large numbers of secondhand guns makes gun shows attractive to criminals and other prohibited purchasers.

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