April 19 2018 11:03 AM

Lawmaker takes action to close ‘loophole’ in Michigan laws


    If State Sen. Rick Jones gets his way, if you don’t have an authorization to purchase a handgun, a background check or a concealed pistol permit, you won’t be renting a gun in Michigan.

    Jones, R-Grand Ledge, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, has asked for legislation to regulate gun rentals in Michigan after a March 26 murder-suicide in Lansing Township was committed with a gun stolen from a gun store.

    Lansing Township Police Chief Adam Kline confirmed that Timothy Olin, 30, stole the semiautomatic handgun after renting it from Total Firearms in Delhi Township. He took the weapon to JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts on Saginaw Highway. Once there he killed his estranged girlfriend, Rachel Duncan, 25, then turned the weapon on himself. Duncan had obtained a personal protection order from a local court against Olin. As a result, Duncan was not legally allowed to have a gun.

    Since that happened, City Pulse has reported that the facility’s rental controls were lax — something an attorney for the gun store has said will be addressed with upcoming security measures — and had previously rented a gun to a convicted felon who used his prison identification to complete the transaction.

    “My first thoughts were: How could someone walk off a gun range with a rental gun so easily?” said Jones. “How can we stop bad people from renting guns?” So last week he met with representatives of the Michigan State Police and the National Instant Background Check System to determine how legislation could address what State Rep. Jon Hoadley, D-Kalamazoo called a “loophole” in Michigan’s gun laws.

    Jones has requested draft language from the state’s Legislative Services Bureau, which reviews any legislative proposal before it is introduced, that will do a series of things to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them.

    One bill would require those wishing to rent a gun to have background checks of some sort. A second bill would require federal firearm licensed dealers to call law enforcement if a potential buyer fails a background check. And finally, Jones wants to create a misdemeanor for anyone with a concealed pistol license who fails to surrender it to the county clerk if it has been suspended or revoked.

    That’s an issue highlighted by Total Firearms, said Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum. In her role, she issues and restracts concealed pistol licenses in the county.

    Under Michigan law, possession of a valid concealed pistol license allows a person to purchase a gun without a three-day waiting period. However, a licensed person who is charged with a crime or subject to a personal protection order is required to surrender his or her license to the clerk because it is suspended. When a person is convicted of a crime, the license is revoked.

    But that wasn’t happening in Ingham County. Byrum discovered when a license holder with a suspended license walked into Total Firearms this year and purchased a gun. The purchaser then took the weapon to the Ingham County Sheriff’s Department to register it. Law enforcement seized the gun, but Byrum was furious, she said.

    “It’s important that those licenses be surrendered when suspended,” she said.

    Working with Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wrigglesworth, deputies are now knocking on the doors of people with CPLs have been revoked or suspended.

    Jones called the reforms “common sense” and said he doesn’t expect pushback from gun rights advocates.