Kent County Sheriff won't enforce possible gun ban

9:07 PM, Jan 25, 2013   |    comments
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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma is sharing his opinion on efforts to ban certain assault-style weapons. As the county's top law enforcer, Stelma says the guns are not the problem.

The Kent County Sheriff's Department showed WZZM 13 two rifles, both with the same power and speed. However one of them, the AR-15, is on the proposed list to be banned, the other isn't.

"This rifle is not classified as an assault rifle even though it does the exact same thing this rifle (AR-15) does," says First Lieutenant Scott Brown, with the Kent County Sheriff's Department.

Brown says the two guns only look different because the AR-15 has a flash suppressor, a bayonet lug, a pistol grip, and an adjustable stock. The sheriff's department says the AR-15 is not as powerful as some other legal guns.

"It isn't the capacity of the weapon, it's the person behind the trigger," says Sheriff Larry Stelma.

Stelma also opposes limiting ammo clips.  When asked why people need a gun that fires 30 rounds, Sheriff Stelma said, "It's the same argument as why do you need ten golf clubs in your golf bag-- it's the person's right."

The Sheriff's Department says long guns are only used in 2.5% of murders nationally, most involve handguns. Even if federal law bans guns like the AR-15, Sheriff Stelma says he won't enforce it.

"If someone is on their own property, safely shooting or hunting with a weapon that is not illegal by state standards, we're just not going to get involved," says Sheriff Stelma.

When asked if he would notify federal authorities, Stelma said it depends on the situation. However, he wants the effort to be more focused on other issues like mental illness and violence as a whole.

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