West Michigan gun dealers: Permits and background checks

Gun laws on the books

CASCADE, MICH. - Every federally-licensed gun dealer in the U.S. requires a background check for any gun purchase.

"We sell rifles, we sell semi-automatic, we sell bolt action and we sell single shots," said Gregg Glasco, general manager at Barracks 616 in Kent County's Cascade Township. "[And] anything that has a projectile coming out at the end of the barrel, we do a background check on you."

The background check, which employees at Barracks 616 perform on-site, often right away, goes through the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

"Some instances [requests] get delayed because they have a very common name, or they get denied because they've got a cloud in their background that the government does not see them fit to have a firearm," Glasco said.

There are many factors that could prohibit someone from passing the federal background check, including a criminal conviction "punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year,"  illegal drug use and cases of mental health involving involuntary commitment to a mental institution or being "found incompetent to handle own affairs." 

But Michigan law requires more steps for purchasing handguns from dealers. A buyer must apply for a permit to purchase a handgun with a law enforcement agency or apply for a concealed pistol license (CPL). 

A CPL allows for concealed carry and makes the purchasing process more fluid. But there are more enumerated Michigan laws that can prohibit approval of the CPL, including misdemeanors for reckless driving, stalking and operating a vehicle with a suspended license. 

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Classroom training is required for a CPL, Glasco said. 

"Then you get fingerprinted and bring it to the clerk," he said. "It takes 4-6 weeks right about now."

The CPL process is worth the time investment, said Ethan Poland, who bought his first handgun Tuesday.

"Going by the books, doing things the right way, the process could be a little lengthy, but should be relatively easy," Poland said. 

 It doesn't happen often, but gun dealers can refuse sales based on in-store screening, Glasco said. 

"For no better term, [it's] when we're creeped out," he said. "[For example, if] the guy came across as wired, nervous, preoccupied -- just wanted to grab something and run."

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