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Michigan House passes ban on tax-payer funded gun buyback programs

8 guns laid out on beige carpet
Joshua Shearn
Wikimedia Commons / http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Local governments in Michigan would be barred from using public resources for gun buyback programs under a bill (H.R. 5479)that the Michigan House passed Wednesday 58-49.

The bill would not prevent a local government from using public money to purchase firearms from a licensed firearms dealer for law enforcement purposes.

Rep. Annette Glenn (R-Midland), the bill's sponsor, said no level of government should use taxpayer money to buy firearms from private gun owners.

According to Glenn, the bill is necessary to protect the taxpayer and to prevent unfair competition with private gun dealers.

"If a private gun owner wants to sell or dispose of a firearm, they are free to, and should turn to private sector buyers," said Glenn. "Let the free market decide the supply and demand and the value of firearms."

Glenn said the bill does not prevent people from turning in their guns to local law enforcement - and it does not ban private and nonprofit groups from hosting gun buyback programs.

Rep. Alex Garza (D-Taylor), said although he's a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, he is opposed to the bill because it erodes local control.

"When we look at what this bill does, it actually takes away the authority of our locals to do what's best for their communities," said Garza.

Other opponents said gun buyback programs run by local governments and law enforcement can be a safe way to remove from homes unwanted guns that might be stolen or cause accidental injury.

The National Rifle Association supports the bill. Opponents include the Michigan Association of Counties, the Michigan Municipal League, the Michigan Fraternal Order of Police, and the cities of Midland, Port Huron and Detroit.

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Virginia Gordan has been a part-time reporter at Michigan Radio since fall 2013. She has a general beat covering news topics from across the state.