The federal government is teaming up with Michigan law enforcement agencies in a new push to get more illegal guns off the streets.
The Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm Bureau said nearly half of all illegal gun purchases come from family and friends who are buying them for people banned from owning them.
“Illegal guns on the streets are not a good thing,” said Mike Jaafar, with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department.
Law enforcement agencies from across the state came together on Wednesday to talk about illegal firearms in the community and how they are getting there.
“Essentially, what we’re trying to do is create awareness. Awareness in the public about the possibility of someone who might be out there that’s contemplating buying a gun for someone that is legally prohibited from having them,” said James Deir, with the ATF Detroit field division.
Authorities from a variety of law enforcement agencies promoted the “Don’t lie for the other guy” campaign in Auburn Hills on Wednesday.
The campaign focuses on the crime of straw purchasing firearms, which is anyone who buys a gun for someone who legally can’t buy their own.
“Those actions could very easily result in that gun being trafficked, being sold illegally to somebody on the street who again is a convicted felon or has some other violent act in their past who again at the end of the day, they’re going to use that gun to commit some other violent act,” Deir said.
Law enforcement sent another message to retail clerks to follow their instincts. If something feels wrong about a transaction you don’t have to go through with it.
“Why not stop it right here at the retail counter where these folks that are just trying to earn a living are being lied to by people coming in and buying guns for those that can’t buy themselves,” Genesee County Undersheriff Chris Swanson said.
Swanson said it’s a problem not just locally, but nationally.
“The message that we’re giving out is it doesn’t matter where you live, you have to be aware and if you work in retail be even more aware that people are going to come in to try to present a story that’s not valid, that’s not accurate in order to be part of that process to inflict violence on innocent folks that are watching right now, that are trying to do good,” Swanson said.
Straw purchasing a firearm is considered a 10-year felony, according to federal law.