Mental illness and gun possession in Michigan - WNEM TV 5


Mental illness and gun possession in Michigan

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"I don't think anyone who has any mental health disabilities should own a gun," said Edward Young, Mid-Michigan resident.

Belinda Neitzelt agrees.

"I wouldn't give a person that has mental health issues a gun," she said.

You're depressed, perhaps suicidal and you want to buy a gun. Can the state stop you? What exactly can they do to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people?

"It's a huge issue. It's a very serious issue," said Kevin Collins, with Michigan State Police firearms office in Lansing.

As the I-Team discovered, simply telling your doctor you're feeling blue won't prevent you from getting a gun.

"For the most part, those things need to be adjudicated through the court systems," Collins said.

Around the nation the issue has been a hot button on. In Kalamazoo, Aurora and Sandy Hook, deranged people have gotten their hands on guns and killed people who didn't have a chance.

In Michigan, the I-Team's investigation revealed the only thing to disqualify you from getting a gun are felonies, addiction to controlled substances, or mental health related orders and other court orders.

The key gatekeeper in Michigan is the dealers who sell handguns. They use their eyes and ears and they can usually detect if someone is trying to buy a gun for less than honorable purposes.

"We have people who come in who try to buy one for someone else who can't buy one. Usually it's obvious so you try to feel them out. We want to make sure we get the right information from the person trying to buy the firearm and if not, we turn them away," said James Woods, with Duncan's Outdoor.

Woods said while it's not often, they do turn people away and are an integral part of the process that helps keep guns from getting into the wrong hands.

"Some people come in and smell pot. And we're like why are you even here, we can't sell you a gun. Some smell like alcohol. It's one of those things where you first try to hint nicely and then you just have to get them out of the store," Woods said.

Once an order or anything is entered that would prohibit somebody from buying a gun, it's up to MSP to enter it into the system that's accessible by law enforcement agencies across the state. It's not a matter they take lightly.

"Certainly, Michigan State Police wants to do the very best job possible and keep the guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them," Collins said.

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