Samuel Kuznetsky and Larry Suprun Proposal on Gun Control

Context

Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal:

28.422a

Within 10 days after receiving the record copy returned under subsection (2), the police department or county sheriff shall electronically enter the information into the pistol entry database as required by the department of state police if it has the ability to electronically enter that information… Within 48 hours after entering or otherwise providing the information on the record copy returned under subsection (2) to the department of state police, the police department or county sheriff shall forward the copy of the record to the department of state police. The purchaser has the right to obtain a copy of the information placed in the pistol entry database under this subsection to verify the accuracy of that information. The police department or county sheriff may charge a fee not to exceed $1.00 for the cost of providing the copy.

Importance:

Local municipalities, specifically police departments, play minimal roles in the purchase of firearms of Michigan residents. Their roles are simply electronically-driven, entering information into the pistol database and forwarding the information to the department of state police.

123.1102 Regulation of pistols, other firearms, pneumatic guns, or ammunition.

Sec. 2.

A local unit of government shall not impose special taxation on, enact or enforce any ordinance or regulation pertaining to, or regulate in any other manner the ownership, registration, purchase, sale, transfer, transportation, or possession of pistols, other firearms, or pneumatic guns, ammunition for pistols or other firearms, or components of pistols or other firearms, except as otherwise provided by federal law or a law of this state.

Importance:

A local police department, even if it wanted to, is not allowed to adopt its’ own laws in regulating the ownership of firearms. There are some cities that want to make gun laws stricter.

Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan, or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan:

 

Prescribed in the Second Amendment of our nation’s constitution, the right of private citizens to own and purchase firearms is not only embedded within our nation’s history, but also, considering its popularized federal support, is a decree that shall not be challenged. Instead, as the Amendment’s rooted purchasing and ownership policies fall under the purview of state legislatures, attention, and plans for reform, must be directed towards the states themselves.

Currently, the state of Michigan, similar to our nation’s other 49 states, upholds gun legislation that is both state-specific and far too inadequate to ensure that all gun sales adhere to the decrees of our founding fathers. Further, while issues concerning the sales of guns transcend differences in demographics, socioeconomic class, or any other socially-defining characteristic, such sales policies highly relate to academia, of all ages, as schools increasingly serve as nuclei for gun related violence. Examining metrics of 2018 alone, within the year’s first three months, nearly 1,900 individuals have perished as a result of shootings and 18 separate instances have described a weapon being fired on school grounds, two of which have taken place in Michigan. Aligning with the position of gun violence researchers that there is no finite law to eliminate the risk of mass shootings, there remain state-specific directives that the Michigan state legislature must implore to better ensure the safety of the state’s gun sales, and thus, the safety of all residents.

As firearms, and their respective legislations, are federally classified on the basis of Title, our proposal is geared around Title I handguns, specifically firearms (predominately pistols) with aggregate barrel lengths of less than 26 inches. Presently, Michigan, along with roughly forty other states, adhere loose gun purchasing regulations, specifically in regard to the background check process. There are currently two avenues for pistol purchases in the state of Michigan. Residents, of age 18 or elder, can legally purchase a pistol with a purchasing license through a private seller, and, upon turning 21, any private U.S. citizen can directly purchase such firearms in the state through any Federally licensed dealer (FFL) of their choice, pending the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

Further, channeling the FFL directive, current Michigan law will grant immediate right of purchase upon passage of the timeless NICS test, delay right of purchase for a length of up to three days, or simply deny the purchase request. While FFL rejection predominantly occurs if the available, NICS, public records of the prospective purchaser highlight a prior conviction, crime of domestic violence, or mental health diagnoses, delays, pending needs of greater information on the purchaser solely through the NICS system, in the state remain active for a minuscule 72-hour window, upon which right of purchase is granted. Thus, if say, a Michigan resident residing in a more rural region of the state, precisely an area lacking fully transparent digitized information, were to be delayed by the NICS system for not having sufficient public records, and his or her public information remains uncovered by the NICS system after three days’ time, that citizen would be given right to purchase, regardless of the very details of the written records. This system entirely removes local municipalities, precisely county police departments (holders of all recorded resident’s public information), from the background checking process. Tasked with ensuring the safety of its residents, Michigan’s police departments are not only equipped with the utmost information on residents, but also, as institutions of armed protective officers, these departments should rationally require conversations with residents seeking to similarly arm themselves.

How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?

Beginning with participating in general discussions concerning proposed gun reforms on the caucus website, we immediately were appalled to learn of the variation in state legislatures in regard to the purchasing processes of weapons. Further, upon reviewing February’s horrific tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and listening to the Parkland students’ dreadful recounts of the shooter’s actions, we were hell-bent on addressing this issue, and learning of its relevance to the state of Michigan. Remaining active on all gun-related caucus discussions, ranging from Uber-shooting incidents in Michigan to the role of social media in the March for Our Lives movement, we began to view guns as a social issue, and, subsequently, sought to understand how guns are accessed within the state. Upon undergoing thorough research and forming dialogue among Washtenaw county’s community members, we began to view Michigan’s current gun purchasing legislation to be inadequate and entirely blind to the necessary inclusion of local police municipalities.  

How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?

While both of our service work has entirely consisted of activities with the Food Gatherers organization, our positive relationship with the food bank and pantry only further drove our passion of addressing this issue within Michigan. Food gatherers seeks to tackle issues of food insecurity at their source, and also provides aid-recipients with both immediate nutrition and long-term pathways for becoming self-sufficient. Replicating this approach, we framed our research of gun sales to understand the state’s precise workings and exposed the lack of police presence as our central issue. Discussing our proposal of mandating police departments to be included in the background checking process of gun sales, Washtenaw community members, and employees of the organization, aided us in our standings of the local laws and introduced us to the idea of forming a direct relationship with the Ann Arbor police department.

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

Our infographic: Gun Control

Consultations

Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).

CONSULTATION 1: Chris Briney -- Head of Pistol Registration at Ann Arbor Police Department

Talking to Officer Briney gave us critical information for our proposal. Going in, we had developed a basic understanding of gun laws on the federal level, and Officer Briney was able to effectively outline the differences of federal and state jurisdictions, and also summarized Michigan’s extensive state-specific firearm laws. Officer Briney made it clear that he was pro-guns, something we found important to our proposal and contextually necessary, but was not a representative, or in favor, of the NRA. Even with a pro-gun stance, Officer Briney is not opposed to gun reform, and he even pointed us towards specific areas of Michigan's law to target.

He first walked us through the process of owning a gun under the length of 26 inches in Michigan (Title 1 firearms). There are two ways to legally purchase a firearm. A resident, of age 18 or older, can buy a gun through a private seller or, if over the age of 21, a resident can simply purchase a firearm from any Federally Licensed Dealer (FFL). Before the FFL can complete the transaction, potential buyers must pass the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Within minutes, the FFL will either grant the immediate right of purchase, delay the purchase for a length of up to three days, or reject the purchase request. Rejection occurs due to:

1. Persons convicted/under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, whether or not sentence was imposed.  This includes misdemeanor offenses with a potential term of imprisonment in excess of two years, whether or not sentence was imposed.

2. Persons who are fugitives from justice (the subject of an active warrant).

3. An unlawful user and/or an addict of a controlled substance.

4. Persons adjudicated as mental defective or involuntarily committed to a mental institution or incompetent to handle their own affairs.

5. An alien illegally/unlawfully in the United States, the exception of non-immigrants pursuant to Subsection.

6. Persons dishonorably discharged from the United States Armed Forces.

7. A renouncer of United States Citizenship.

8. The subject of a protective order.

9. Persons convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

The NICS delay threshold is one area that Officer Briney recommended that we focus our proposal on. In a 72-hour window, solely through the NICS system, more information on the purchaser is investigated. He pointed out that many old records have not been entered into the system and that cities either lack the technology to upload the information or are careless and do not take the time to do so.

Officer Briney also discussed the purchase of firearms over the length of 26 inches. Buying guns over 26 inches, in the state of Michigan, do not require any prerequisite background checks. However, Officer Briney noted that there are minimal deaths due to firearms over 26 inches and that this should not be the focus of our proposal. He made it clear that almost all gun related fatalities are highly correlated with Title I weapons, specifically pistols of 26 inches or less.

Mental illness is a popular subject regarding the ownership of firearms and was a potential focal point of our proposal prior to our conversation with Officer Briney. Mental illness is difficult to define and it is a private citizen inherit right to own a firearm (as noted by the Second Amendment). Under the mental health clause, a potential buyer is only denied firearm purchase if he or she is adjudicated as mentally defective, found to be involuntarily committed to a mental institution, or denounced as incompetent to handle his or her own affairs. In other words, a court must declare that the buyer is mentally ill.

After discussing our ideas and Michigan’s current legislation, he ended our conversation with his recommendation of the best way to go about gun reform. Officer Briney recommended that we require potential purchasers of firearms to meet with their local police departments prior to being given right of purchase. He explained how local municipalities have the most information on its residents. Further, Officer Briney gave the example of neighbors having a fight resulting in the police being called. If the next day one of neighbors attempts to purchase a gun from an FFL, this information would not show up in the NICS system, yet would be recorded at the local police station.

CONSULTATION 2: Jake B  (name changed for privacy purposes as requested by student)

We found it necessary to acquire a consultant who both understands the tragedies of gun-related violence and has even experienced such tragedy himself. Jake Bernstein, 20, saw the direct effects that can happen as a result of firearm misuse. As a senior in high school, unfortunately, he experienced both the death of a classmate from a gunshot and a friend’s father become imprisoned for holding an unlicensed firearm.

These are two of the direct consequences of the accessibility of guns. Regarding the loss of a classmate, he talked about how it tore apart both the family and the school. He distinctly remembers seeing the mother of his friend completely heartbroken at the loss of her child. No parent should have to endure this kind of loss. Jake described the school environment as “utterly shell shocked”, and further characterized a demoralized student body with heightened demand for counseling. The focus of the school turned from education to recovering from this horrific tragedy. On the other hand, the student who saw his father become imprisoned for illegal gun possession went through the struggle of adjusting to a single parent household. He now had to be the man of the house, both emotionally supporting his mother and helping raise his younger siblings. He found that gun reform focusing on forcing potential buyers to meet with local municipalities to be effective.

CONSULTATION 3: Spencer Ezralow - Senior University of Michigan

Proposing gun reform requires understanding the viewpoints of people that are simply pro-gun. While we were unable to speak, on record, to the NRA, the Michigan Friends of NRA, or other pro-gun control activist groups in the state, we sought an alternative directive. The only response that we even received was from the NRA saying that all their views can be found on their website. The fact that this many organizations were unwilling to talk to us speaks for itself.

Instead, we had no other option but to speak directly to private residents that are pro-gun. Only one of the four people we spoke to was willing to go on record but we accounted for all information we received. The reluctance gun owners have of going on record speaks to the sensitive nature of the subject and the amount of people that feel strongly about gun reform. These were the commonalities across all the conversations with pro gun control residents:

  • The Second Amendment protects gun ownership

  • Guns are used as self-defense and deter crime

  • People that want to break laws will do so anyway

  • Stricter gun control will not improve the amount of deaths by firearm

Spencer noted that he felt guns were “fun”. He enjoys using guns for pleasure by going to the shooting range and hunting. As we decided on the focus of our proposal, we took into account the viewpoints of the otherside. Forcing residents to meet with their local police department is an easy and quick way to keep dangerous individuals from owning guns without infringing upon the consideration of pro-gun activists.

Prospectus:

Describe the specific issue or problem, being sure to provide sufficient context so that someone less familiar with the issue has a sense of the bigger picture, but know that your focus here is on a more detailed spelling out of the specific problem or issue that you’ve identified. (250 words minimum)

Link
 

Potential Solutions:

Describe three reasonable, feasible potential solutions or approaches that would help address this problem.

SOLUTION 1: If a person tries to buy a gun, that individual is either granted the right to purchase the firearm, denied, or delayed following a background check. If a person is delayed, in the state of Michigan there is a three day period where there is a further review of the buyer's record. Even if not enough information is found after 3 days, the person is granted the right to purchase the gun. In other states, the delay period is 10 days. We do not think it is feasible to eliminate the delay process entirely, but we think it would be effective to extend the delay period in Michigan from 3 to 10 days to allow the state more time to find information on potential buyers.

SOLUTION 2:The state of Michigan does not force potential gun purchasers to meet with their local municipalities. After speaking with the head of pistol registration at the Ann Arbor Police Department, we found out this used to be a requirement and something that officer Briney found to be an effective tool keep dangerous individuals from purchasing guns. Other states require individuals to meet with their local police department. Local police have more information on residents than the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Forcing individuals to meet with local municipalities will allow for a more effective background check.

SOLUTION 3: Only guns over 26 inches require a background check in the state of Michigan. That means that individuals that would be denied the right to buy a gun under 26 inches would be granted the right to purchase a gun over 26 inches. This is a hole in the system. Forcing all guns to require a background check would keep dangerous individuals from owning guns. Size should not determine a background check, but instead all purchasers should be background checked.

Reaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator:

You must solicit a critique from a topic coordinator, and explain the impact that advice has had on the final draft of this proposal.

Brian Hampton gave us very helpful feedback for our proposal. Specifically, Brian emphasized that our proposal should “paint the entire picture of our issue”, focusing on depth and statistics rather than generalizations. Before our meeting, we were focusing our consultants under the criteria of pro-gun reform activism, but Brian highlighted the importance of including the alternative perspectives within our proposal. We specifically did this for our third consultant. Brian also pointed us in the correct direction regarding our specific solutions. We were thinking too broad, and he was able to push us towards a more realistic solution. Lastly, Brian inspired us to look deeper into our stats. We were stating general facts of current gun issues, and needed to expand upon how our proposal will fix these statistics. Overall, Brian helped us take major steps forward in crafting an effective proposal.

Research process:

Describe your research process — indicate who you talked to (including but not limited to consultants), what you read, what your thinking was, how it changed over time, and how your consultants changed your thinking. This description of your research process definitely could include “dead ends,” or ideas you had that didn’t ultimately bear fruit.  In short, we want to know what you did and how it led to your legislation, and we also want you to give us a window into your thought process.

Our idea for gun reform stemmed from general discussions on the caucus website. We found that both of us were active on the gun-related discussions ranging from the role of social media in the March for Our Lives movement and uber-shooting incidents. Following the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, we officially decided that gun reform would be the focus of our proposal.

We started our research by focusing on the popularity of guns, who owns guns, the reasons for owning, the accessibility of firearms, and how it affects people of our age. We were shocked to learn that 1 in 235 people will be murdered by firearms, 0.6% of background checks are denied, and that investigations of background checks decreased by 50%. We were immediately drawn towards focusing our proposal on how easy it is to buy a firearm. It was clear that change had to be implemented.

At first, we were unrealistic in the possibilities of our proposal. Banning guns altogether was not out of the question. After conducting further research, the sensitivity of the issue was understood, and we became cognizant that the scope of our proposal would need to be narrowed. Understanding which gun laws were governed by the federal government versus state governments was troublesome. It was unclear which areas of Michigan law had an opportunity for gun reform.

Officer Briney, the head of pistol registration at the Ann Arbor Police Department, pointed us in the correct direction. He clearly laid out exactly which types of guns cause most of the tragedies and how to target reform. We left this meeting with two strong ideas for our proposal; we either were going to extend the delay threshold of the NICS system from three to ten days or force residents to meet with their local police departments prior to purchases of firearms.

After conducting more research, it was clear the focus of our proposal should be on forcing residents to meet with their local municipalities. There was no clear research showing that expanding the delay time from three to ten days improves the amount of deaths by firearms. However, there is clear evidence that forcing residents to meet with local police departments is effective in fostering gun safety. The state of Massachusetts forces its residents to meet with municipal police departments and had the lowest U.S. rate of gun deaths. We found this to be convincing evidence.

Talking with pro gun control people made us more confident in our proposal. Instead of forcing a buyer to wait days, our proposal only requires thirty minutes from a potential purchaser. Pro gun control residents agreed that they would be prefer this over having NICS delay up to ten days. This was the best balance of taking both sides into account and ultimately solidified our proposal.

Author contributions:

Please delineate--in detail--who made what contributions to the process and to the finished proposal? Who took on which responsibilities in researching ideas, drafting language, etc.?

We decided at the beginning of the proposal that we would tackle everything together. Starting with the media artifact, we did all of the research together. Sam took on the responsibility of putting together the media artifact on his computer as he is more artistic, but Larry was right there in the process. As we moved on to the prospectus, Larry is a more effective writer so he took on the responsibility of the introduction. This part required more sophisticated, and creative writing. Sam wrote the paragraphs describing our research and how we were going to turn it into a proposal. We came together to edit. Both of us were at every consultation meeting. We found this to be important to both of our understandings and think it helped us with our proposal. As we narrowed in on the focus of our proposal, we would schedule time for research. Larry ended up finding the specific laws that related to our proposal, and Sam found how Massachusetts benefitted from laws similar to our proposal. The entirety of this proposal was written together.

===FORMAL PROPOSAL===

The sections below should comprise your final proposal language, submitted for consideration by your peers and potential inclusion in the MSC Platform.

Preambulatory clauses

These set up the PROBLEM, but not the solution.

WHEREAS.... The state of Michigan does not currently directly include local, and county, police departments as part of the background check process for prospective gun sales.

WHEREAS....The state of Michigan presently observes a meager 72-hour window of delay prior to granting right of sale under the NICS criteria, whereas other states hold a delay window of up to 10-days.

WHEREAS.... In 2012, the FBI conducted 21,005 background checks for Michigan handgun purchases. In 2017, it was 141,062.

WHEREAS.... In 2010, applicants appealed about 23% of the 72,659 background check denials issued that year. Of these, about 21% were later overturned and the applications approved

WHEREAS.... From the inception of the federal background check system in 1998 to 2014, about 202.5 million background checks for gun purchases were processed through the FBI’s background check system. Of these, approximately 1.2 million or 0.6% were denied

WHEREAS.... In 2016, 73% of all murders were committed with firearms

WHEREAS.... 142 school shootings since Sandy Hook (Dec. 2012)

Operative clauses

These describe in detail, the solution you are proposing (not the problem itself; those should go in the "Whereas" clauses above).

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED....

1. Residents are required to meet and have a conversation with their local police departments in addition to passing the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Local police departments are equipped with the utmost information on its residents.

2. Each police department must have two officers that are certified in pistol registration to ensure convenience for residents.

3. Officers conducting the conversation must fill out an evaluation form, stating the reasoning for granting access to firearms or denying purchase.

4. All Michigan police departments must have these standards in place 6 months following the passing of this legislation.

Counter-arguments:

What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?

1. The Second Amendment protects gun ownership and this makes it more difficult to obtain a firearm.

2. Guns are used as self-defense and can deter crime.

3. Stricter gun control will not improve the amount of deaths by firearm.

4. People that break laws will still find a way to do so.

Costs and funding:

What will your proposal cost (in direct expenses, lost tax revenue, lost economic opportunity, and/or non-monetary costs)? How will you pay for your proposed legislation? Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from?  Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?  

Average Salary of Officer in Michigan: $45,712

Number of FBI Background Checks for Handgun Purchases in 2017: 141,062

Assuming the average officer words 52 weeks a year and is paid 40 hours per week, the average officer works 2,080 hours in a year. Using the average salary of $45,712, the average hourly pay for an officer is $21.98. A required conversation for residents with their local police department would cost the state $10.99 per 30 minute conversation. Multiplying $10.99 by the number of background checks for handgun purchases in 2017 gives a total of $1,550,054.36. This is an extremely conservative estimate. After speaking with Officer Briney, the head of pistol registration for the Ann Arbor Police Department, he does not think that requiring a 30 minute conversation would cost the state anything. Officers have enough time at the station to have these conversations and often would not last near the 30 minute estimate. Also, forcing residents to meet with their local police department would deter many potential firearm purchasers, leading to a decrease in the number of background checks. Although it is not believed that this proposal would require funding, if necessary, the state would fund this legislation. The budget for Michigan State Police rose 37% even when factoring inflation in 2017 over the first seven budgets of Gov. Rick Snyder. There is room in the Michigan State Police budget to fund this important legislation.

References:

These can include websites or other information you have found about the issue.

http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/x198684937/Are-you-a-suitable-gun-owner-Police-chiefs-decide

https://getsafe.com/firearm-background-checks-per-state/

https://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp

https://www.mass.gov/service-details/gun-ownership-in-massachusetts

https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2013/02/17/the-nation-toughest-gun-control-law-made-massachusetts-less-safe/3845k7xHzkwTrBWy4KpkEM/story.html

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/01/10/mass-had-lowest-gun-death-rate-country-study-says/jOCtngpzaToQFBdZq43AbP/story.html

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/10/05/upshot/how-to-reduce-mass-shooting-deaths-experts-say-these-gun-laws-could-help.html

https://www.indeed.com/salaries/Police+Officer-Salaries,-Michigan

https://www.bridgemi.com/public-sector/snyders-michigan-less-crime-more-funding-state-police

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Total votes: 30