Government Vs. Guns

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Sign in Classic Arms, Inc.
Photo: Katy Barth

They haven’t even been approved, but Lansing Township citizens say they are already feeling the effects of  changes President Barack Obama wants to make to gun control.

Since the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut Obama has been pushing for reform.

“If there’s even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try,” Obama said during a speech on gun control.

Gun shop owners from Lansing and Lansing Township agree that you can’t blame the gun for what it is fired at. The person aiming it should be at fault.

A change to background checks and a ban of automatic weapons worry buyers, sellers and law enforcement agencies.

Ban on Assault Weapons

Another potential change discussed by Obama is a ban on assault weapons. An assault weapon is an automatic or semiautomatic and has a cartridge that is capable of holding a lot of bullets. It ejects the empty bullet case and self-loads the next bullet by squeezing the trigger.

Even talk of a ban has affected people. Merchandise is being bought quickly while it’s still available.

The shortage is bad for gun-shop owners and dangerous to the public, said Police Chief Kay Hoffman of Lansing Township.

“People are buying them who don’t know how to use them … because they’re afraid they’re going to be limited down the road and they won’t be able to buy them,” Hoffman said.

It’s a problem for Yvonne Evanoff-Joseph, owner of Classic Arms, Inc., a family owned gun shop in Lansing Township.

“I’m very nervous about what is going to happen in this industry,” Evanoff-Joseph said. “Nobody knows right now. I just got back from one of the shows, placing orders, and there is no word on when we will be getting merchandise, they are that far behind.”

Even the Lansing Township Police Department has trouble buying firearms and ammunition. An officer buying ammunition for an upcoming shooting lesson could only buy one box, Hoffman said.

Customers at Total Firearms, a Lansing gun shop and shooting range, are having similar problems.

“People travel from hours away,” said Doug Carl, owner of Total Firearms. “We’re down to a limit on our ammunition, down to one box per person. We do have customers that come in very upset.”

Carl said he doesn’t like the idea of banning certain guns or ammunition.

“It’s just a tool and it and its purpose,” said Carl when describing a gun.

Instead of seeing a ban on specific guns Carl said he would like to see education classes given to those who wish to handle firearms and help for those who need it.

Background Checks

Obama wants mandatory background checks on individuals who are purchasing firearms through a business or personal sale.

But Hoffman disagrees that it would keep firearms out of the wrong hands.

Hoffman said the background check system doesn’t reveal enough information since it only looks at a person’s criminal history. It’s against the law to show a person’s mental health history.

“Just because someone may have a permit doesn’t mean they haven’t slipped through the cracks,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman said she prefers that local police issue gun permits. Her department knows township residents well enough to know if they should be allowed to carry a gun, even if their criminal record is acceptable, she said.

“We know things that didn’t result in criminal prosecution.”

But Carl likes increasing the background check requirement. He said this is where the government has “dropped the ball” by not strengthening the system sooner, he said.


Michigan gun laws can be found here.

By Katy Barth

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