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Public forum on gun control sparks debate in Kalamazoo

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KALAMAZOO, Mich -- An open forum lead to strong arguments in Kalamazoo on Monday. The topic: gun control; a sensitive issue in the area coming just weeks after the mass shooting that killed six people an injured two others.

The big question asked at the forum: is gun violence directly connected to gun access? The discussion drew a clear line in the sand between the two sides, made clear by a question and answer session.

The forum was run by State Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) and Tom Lambert, president of Michigan Open Carry.

“I would love to see us expand our background checks, I would love to see us work on smart gun technology and ultimately let's look for ways that empower local communities to make decisions about the guns in their communities," said Hoadley.

“Before we can talk about solutions we have to correctly identify the problem and Representative Hoadley and I reasonably disagree on what some of the problems really are," said Lambert.

“I think this world has got completely crazy, and I want to protect myself, protect my children, protect my family, and come home safe at the end of the day," said Denise Flinders, an open carry advocate.

Flinders was just one of many people who came to the meeting and vocalized the importance of their Second Amendment rights. “I am an NRA instructor. I work for Firearms Legal Protection, which is a legal service company that protects citizens that have to use their firearms in self-defense reasons. I am also a mother of six children with special needs and carry my gun everywhere I legally can," said Flinders.

The heated debate showed just how passionate the audience was on the issue of guns.

“People care passionate about keeping their family safe, their home safe and their community safe, and I think Kalamazoo knows that all too well" said Hoadley. "Having recently experienced a mass shooting event, I understand that people feel very passionately about this issue. I think that we need more open dialogue like we saw tonight. It’s a start of a conversation."

Hoadley is currently working on legislation to introduce a new emergency alert system for situations like the shooting a few weeks ago. He is partnering with State Rep. Brandt Iden (R-Oshtemo Twp).

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  • Professional Soldier

    I’d like to see people identify the problem, and not the tools used. We already have BGC for all new gun sales, all guns sold on the internet, and all used guns from dealers. The only ones not required, are some guns sold by individuals, which actually, those can have a BGC done too, simply by going to an FFL and doing one there.
    There’s no need to expand the law, since this already exists.

    • jim smith

      Re: “some guns sold by individuals, which actually, those can have a BGC done too”

      If you can find an FFL willing to do it. This has been written about in Colorado that enacted background checks on all transfers in 2013, Many FFLs refuse to do them because (1) they make no money on the transaction (2) it ties up a sales person and the fee the state allows them to charge for doing the service will not cover his time, overhead costs, or the sales lost by not being able to wait on other customers. (3) The transaction requires them to temporarily move a privately owned firearm into their inventory which requires paperwork that can be a potential source of errors which will be dinged in a BATF audit (4) The form 4473 they are required to keep on the transaction becomes a potential liability because some BATF inspectors will ding them for nits like abbreviations or illegible entries – and after a certain number of dings, you can loose your license. FFLs put up with all of this as a cost of doing business when they make money selling a firearm but they have found it’s not worth it if all they are doing is the background check.

  • IdahoMan

    I’d like to see an increase in home DIY manufacturing. If people made guns, tools, and equipment at home then from basic materials then they wouldn’t be so dependent on regulated/overpriced sources. Same with water/power: If you could have your own well and/or use solar power for example.

    Things that empower the individual and defeat regulation or monopolization are wonderful things.

  • Common Cents

    Removing guns doesn’t eliminate crime. Crime is a systemic issue that will always exist as long as money exists.

  • Rich

    Marxist and Islamists who infect our federal government plus the MSM media prostitutes who protect them will gleefully lie, falsify, fabricate, slander, libel, deceive, delude, bribe, and treasonably betray the free citizens of the United States..

    Second Amendment foes lying about gun control – The Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting. The Second Amendment has nothing to do with personal self-defense.Firearms are our constitutionally mandated safeguard against tyranny by a powerful federal government. Only dictators, tyrants, despots, totalitarians, and those who want to control and ultimately to enslave you support gun control.

    No matter what any president, senator, congressman, or hard-left mainstream media prostitutes tell you concerning the statist utopian fantasy of safety and security through further gun control: They are lying. If their lips are moving, they are lying about gun control. These despots truly hate America..

    These tyrants hate freedom, liberty, personal responsibility, and private property. But the reality is that our citizens’ ownership of firearms serves as a concrete deterrent against despotism. They are demanding to hold the absolute power of life and death over you and your family. Ask the six million Jewws, and the other five million murdered martyrs who perished in the Nazzi death camps, how being disarmed by a powerful tyranny ended any chances of fighting back. Ask the murdered martyrs of the Warsaw Ghetto about gun control.

    Their single agenda is to control you after you are disarmed. When the people who want to control you hold the absolute power of life and death over your family, you have been enslaved. The hard-left Marxist and Islamists who infect our federal government plus the MSM media prostitutes who protect them will gleefully lie, falsify, fabricate, slander, libel, deceive, delude, bribe, and treasonably betray the free citizens of the United States into becoming an unarmed population. Unarmed populations have been treated as slaves and chattel since the dawn of history.

    Will we stand our ground, maintaining our constitutionally guaranteed Second Amendment rights, fighting those who would enslave us?

    American Thinker

  • jim smith

    Re: “I would love to see us expand our background checks”

    Re: “universal background checks”

    Currently, there are only 2 ways to legally sell a gun in the US to a private citizen. One is a private sale between individuals (typically like between family and friends) or by a gun dealer licensed with a Federal Firearms License (FFL) from the federal BATF. Only individuals with an FFL can run a background check through the government NICS database of prohibited persons. Private citizens cannot. Note that a person can purchase a firearm online, but the physical transfer of the firearm still must go through an FFL at the seller or an FFL local to the buyer. So anyone wanting to improve the process should encourage the federal government to do 2 things:

    1) Allow any small gun dealer to get an FFL without having a storefront. Currently, thanks to the Clinton administration’s effort to reduce the supply of guns, you can’t get an FFL if you want to sell guns only at gun shows (Google BATFE form 5310 FFL application and look at question 18a). As a result someone that wants to sell guns but can’t afford the inventory costs, zoning challenges and overhead of a storefront has to sell illegally or discretely at the edge of the law as a “private individual” and hence can’t run a background check. Rather than throwing these “kitchen table” sellers out of the system like Clinton did hoping they would go away, they should allow them to get an FFL and subject them to BATF rules, audits and oversight like they were before the Clinton administration let political anti-gun ideology get in the way.

    2) Give anyone free, public, anonymous online access to the NICS database. I don’t understand why a federal database of people prohibited from owning firearms can’t be available in the public domain like federal databases for sex offenders. Unlike the sex offender database, the NICS system is really a go/no go process and no useful information has to be displayed to facilitate phishing expeditions for identity theft other than what was already known by the user making the query. It’s certainly no more revealing than the FAA’s pilot and mechanic license query system, which provides more detailed information on presumably law-abiding citizens. Once this system is implemented, you then tell private sellers if you sell or give a firearm to someone and don’t retain documented proof that says you did a favorable NICS check on the buyer, you could be held liable if they commit a gun-related crime. This would effectively close the so-called private sale loophole and still preserve the anonymity of the parties involved the same way the current background check system does now. If a private sale firearm shows up at a crime scene, the BATF follows their current procedure of using the serial number of the firearm to contact the manufacturer and ultimately the last FFL that sold the firearm to a private citizen to obtain that citizen’s name and address from the ATF form 4473 the FFL is required to keep on file. That citizen is then contacted and produces the piece of paper from the NICS background check that identifies the second private citizen who is then contacted, and so forth.

    The real benefit of this proposal is how it can help identify the illusive killer with questionable behavior patterns or mental health issues that is causing so many problems. As it stands now there is no easy, fast, non-bureaucratic method for someone to determine if a suspicious person (client, neighbor, employee, student, etc) is a potential threat to society. If someone thinks an individual could be a threat, a query to a public NICS database would at least tell him or her in a few seconds if the individual could obtain a firearm. Then, armed with that information the appropriate authorities could be notified and they could decide if it was erroneous information or whether to investigate further. As it stands now, if you tell authorities you know a suspicious person they will probably ignore you, but if you tell them you know such a person and by the way according to the NICS database he can buy a firearm, they will probably be more inclined to investigate rather than risk embarrassment later if the worst happens. The same would be true if you see a suspicious acquaintance with a firearm when the NICS query says he’s prohibited from having one. It would also help provide piece of mind and a method for victims of violent crimes to ensure their assailants either on parole or still at large have not been excluded from the database because of some bureaucratic foul-up.
    Other specific public safety issues where it would be useful are:

     allow potential victims to vet known stalkers or acquaintances under a restraining order
     allow gun clubs to vet potential members
     allow shooting ranges to vet suspicious customers
     help prevent straw purchases by allowing FFL’s to vet all individuals involved with the purchase of a firearm as a gift
     allow mental health workers to vet troubled individuals like the Aurora Colorado theater killer
     allow resource officers and school officials to vet suspicious students like the Arapahoe High School killer in Colorado
     allow the family of the mentally troubled Lafayette, LA killer to verify he couldn’t purchase a firearm
     allow police officers to vet anyone they contact – (note the routine background checks performed by police often do not include information about firearms because they don’t directly access the NICS database)

  • jim smith

    Re: “smart gun technology”

    Guns are really pretty simple mechanical devices. If criminals can fabricate and install scanners on credit and debit card readers, I doubt they would have any trouble defeating some electronic trigger control that engages a mechanical firing pin against a cartridge primer.

  • Stu Chisholm

    1. Expand background checks. Okay, but NOT through FFLs, and it will do nothing about the biggest segment of annual “gun deaths”, suicides, which accounts for more than 60%.
    2. Smart Gun technology is about at the same level as our UFO technology; it isn’t ready. Unless a police department adopts smart guns, then I won’t either. Currently, they’re dangerous, and no gang member will ever carry one.
    3. Empower local communities to regulate guns? How about this: let them make up their own laws about driving! Or what is required to have a recognized marriage. Silly, right. SAME THING. We need UNIFORM GUN LAWS throughout the state and, eventually, the country. If I’m trusted to drive down the road, shop in the stores, eat at local restaurants and walk through the park while carrying my firearm, what changes when I cross some arbitrary line? Why is it suddenly not okay in the next state?

    Mr. Hoadley, you need to THINK. Learn about what you’re talking about!

  • teebonicus

    When any Democrat talks about having a ‘debate’ about guns, hold on to your guns. Their only purpose in advocadvocating a ‘debate’ is to advance the squeezing of firearms rights out of existence.

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