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Michigan House Set to Carve Air Guns out of Firearms Laws
After passing a series of gun-related legislation Wednesday, the state House is expected to vote on another round of gun bills.

The package scheduled for a vote on Thursday would carve out pellet and air guns from some Michigan firearms laws.

But the bills would keep pellet and air guns in the definition of firearms for certain hunting laws, as well as prohibiting people from being armed with such guns with the intent of unlawful use.

The package is similar to one introduced last session. Some of those bills made it to Gov. Rick Snyder for signing, but he vetoed them because he expected all of the bills in the package to reach his desk at once.

By The Associated Press

West Virginia Could Get Rid of Concealed Carry Permits
Heather Marchese is your average mother of three, who would do anything for her children - especially when it comes to protecting them.

"You’ve got to be aware of your surroundings. You know if I'm there and I happen to look away and I have my kids with me, and there's a guy behind me, that guy is going to overpower me,” Marchese said.  “But chances are if I've got a gun, I've got a better chance at him-that's my equalizer."

Marchese does not have a permit to carry a concealed gun, but in the state of West Virgnia, open-carrying doesn't require a permit. Marchese says that she carries her gun throughout some of the day, but is hesitant to take it everywhere with her because she simply isn't comfortable carrying her gun uncovered. 

She says that she does feel the urgency to have it with her at all times, especially in places in her own neighborhood where she doesn't always feel safe. It was her own mother who made her realize that owning a gun could be crucial to survival.

"My mother was murdered when I was three years old," added Marchese. "She was beaten unconscious and her house was set on fire, and she died. If my mother would have had a gun, she may still be here."

As the law currently stands, West Virginians have to go through a series of background checks and courses to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon. But if new legislation is approved, that could all change.

Senate Bill 347 would allow anyone who can legally carry a gun to conceal carry without a permit. However, one Berkeley County Official believes the process of getting the permit to concealed carry is critical.

"We don't want any person walking down the street that doesn't know how to safely handle a gun shooting themselves, or accidentally shooting someone else," said Gary Harmison, Berkeley County Chief Deputy.

With the safety courses costing upward of $100, Marchese believes the permit requirements can put single parents at a disadvantage. Nonetheless, she is determined to ensure that her family remains intact.

"That gun is the ability for me to still be here to still be here to raise my kids. I didn't have a mom - my kids will," added Marchese.

By Rachel Charlip, WHAG

Advocates Push State Law That Would Keep Guns Away from Felons
A push to expand background checks on sales of firearms in Vermont is already dead. But gun-control advocates are trying salvage other provisions in their bill. And they’re getting major support from Vermont police.

It’s already illegal under federal law for people convicted of violent felonies to own or possess a gun. But Vermont is the only state in the nation without a comparable statute at the state level.

Gun-control advocates say it’s long past time lawmakers addressed the issue. Leaders in the criminal justice system agree.

“When it comes to regulating firearms, this is fundamentally a state power and a state function,” says David Cahill, head of the Department of State’s Attorneys and Sheriff’s Association. "So the question shouldn’t be, ‘Aren’t the feds taking care of it?’ The question should be, ‘Why aren’t we taking care of this problem? And why are we delegating to the federal government?’”

Most state and local police aren’t authorized to enforce federal law. And Cahill says that sometimes hampers law enforcement.

“We’d like to give our law enforcement officers the ability to confront that person about the fact that they’re hanging out on the street corner with a gun, and get that gun off of them and hold them accountable before they do the shooting,” Cahill says.

The Vermont Police Association and the Vermont Association of Police Chiefs also support a state law dealing with felons and firearms.

While local police can enlist their federal counterparts for assistance, police say federal agents don’t always have the resources, or level of interest, needed to intercede.

Montpelier Police Chief Anthony Facos says a state law prohibiting felons from possessing firearms would provide law enforcement with a “leverage point” for community-level public safety issues. The threat of prosecution for that kind of gun crime could, for instance, help police convince people to provide information about drug dealers operating in the region, according to Facos.

The bill under consideration now would make it illegal only for people convicted of violent felonies, or major drug crimes, to possess a gun. But police want the Legislature simply to mirror the federal law, which covers more offenses.

“This is a very big issue for us and we want to make sure … it’s comprehensive enough, so we address the issues as we see them,” says Vergennes Police Chief George Merkel.

Evan Hughes, a lobbyist for the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, says if federal officers aren’t enforcing federal laws, then lawmakers should urge the state’s congressional delegation to supplement resources.

Ed Cutler, president of Gun Owners of Vermont, says he worries about the impact on people who made a mistake decades ago, but now lead stand up lives.

“The biggest fear is somebody who’s straightened their lives out,” Cutler says. “My biggest fear is those people being prosecuted under the Vermont law.”

Lawmakers are also considering a provision aimed at making it more difficult for mentally ill people with violent tendencies to get a gun.

By Peter Hirschfeld, Vermont Public Radio