Two and a half months and $110: A case for tougher gun background checks

By Dave Palmer

Two and a half months and $112. This is the length of time and the amount of money it cost me to renew my teacher certification with the State of Michigan. This waiting period was preceded by filling out an online form, Wayne State University telling me I needed to submit a paper application, copies of expired and current teaching certificates, college transcripts from both universities I attended, and pay $10 to the Michigan State Police’s Internet Criminal History Access Tool (ICHAT) for a background check that of course turned up nothing.

After I sent all that information to Wayne State University, I had to play the waiting game. And wait I did; over two and a half months passed before I was approved, only if I submitted a $100 payment to the Michigan Department of Education. This of course doesn’t count the number of times I had to pay $75 for a fingerprint-based background check to be a substitute teacher and to be hired as full-time teacher. (Apparently, this has to be done if your background check is more than two years old for EVERY school district you apply to.) All this rigmarole and I don’t even want to own something designed to kill people.

And what of people who do want to own something that kills people? According to Michigan law, they are not required to license a shotgun or a rifle. Handguns require a permit, but the process was streamlined by our legislature to make sure these machinations of death can wind up in people’s hands faster. The requirements to obtain a CCW are laughingly simple, and require a periodic small payment to legally conceal and carry ANY firearm you wish. Oh, and a CCW license lasts longer than a teaching certificate.

I guess my first question is: Why is it tougher to get a teaching certificate renewed than to purchase a firearm, to own a handgun, or to obtain a CCW? Why  does the process for re-certification take two and a half months claiming that it’s “streamlined”, but the legislature bends over backwards to make sure people can not only purchase guns faster, but be licensed to carry a concealed weapon faster as well? On top of that, they proposed to allow people to carry concealed weapons into schools! WHY?!!!

The answer is that our legislature doesn’t really give a rat’s derriere what happens to your children. They like to pretend that they do by making teachers jump through hoops, over hurdles, and run the steeple chase to “protect our children from potential predators.” I get that. They’ve done a good job at that to be sure.

What they don’t care about is whether or not an irresponsible gun owner leaves their gun laying about for their child or someone with a grudge to pick up and take to a school for a little target practice. They don’t care that a parent disgruntled with their child’s grade might choose to take their concealed weapon to the school and address the matter using a pistol as their argument as to why their child deserves a better grade. And yet, I could get into legal trouble if I carry a 4″ pocketknife to school because that is considered a concealed weapon.

This nonsense has to stop.

Our legislature should be focusing on making it easier for teachers to renew their certification and more difficult for people who want to own guns to purchase them. Every gun owner should be required (as teachers are) to submit to biannual fingerprinting at their own expense. They should then have to wait two and a half months for their background check to come back before they can even think about getting their hands on a firearm. It should take even longer for a CCW. Of course, this won’t prevent every instance of gun violence, but it might drastically reduce them.

Before you hop on your commenting machines and fill up the inbox, I already know that criminals won’t follow these laws. That’s why the punishments for violating these laws need to be 20 years in prison, a huge fine, or both. Besides, criminals generally use their guns for crimes like robbery or home invasion. Lunatics who neither understand basic gun safety nor care to understand it buy guns legally and then take them to places and open fire.

Michigan legislators, take heed! The 2014 elections are right around the corner, and I’m making a list and checking it twice, Those who have been naughty and voted to expedite gun ownership while pretending to expedite teacher education will get a giant vote against them. Those who have been nice and opposed the nonsense of faster gun ownership will get a vote for retention. I hope that the rest or Michigan will follow suit.

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