Oakland County Commissioners Bill Dwyer (R-14th District) and Marcia Gershenson (D-13th District) met at the West Bloomfield Police Department Tuesday morning to announce the proposed formation of a study group that would study the gun registration process, especially as it relates to mental health.
"There's no easy solution here, but we think that there are a number of loopholes which must be addressed," said Dwyer, himself a retired law enforcement official and former Farmington Hills Chief of Police.
Recent mass shootings in New Mexico and Connecticut have deeply effected the Greater West Bloomfield community in the wake of the September shooting of WBPD Sgt. Patrick O'Rourke.
Together with West Bloomfield Police Chief Michael Patton, the commissioners said Tuesday, the group will study the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) as well as the Michigan Law Enforcement Information Network, which is used locally for handgun permits.
According to the commissioners, Michigan is one of eight states that are partial participants in NICS, a federal database used to instantly determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to purchase long guns in Michigan.
Patton said that deficiencies in reporting, sometimes in-between state lines, have led to situations in which a mentally ill person could have been given a license to own a gun.
"You don't want to marginalize someone, but the information we have and use to make our decisions is only as good as the information which is being put in," Patton said.
Mental health as a bipartisan concern
Additionally, the commissioners said they will work with mental health professionals including representatives from the Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority and Common Ground, community leaders and law enforcement officials to help determine deficiencies in mental health treatment as it relates to gun registry.
Dwyer said, "We have to have the financial backing to help the mentally ill," mentioning the National Rifle Association as an entity which should be counted on to help mitigate the cost of treatment.
Dwyer and Gershenson also mentioned violent video games as a study which the group plans on undertaking.
According to the draft resolution, the study group will report its recommendations to the Public Services Committee no later than April, with hopes of forwarding a resolution to the Michigan Legislature.
"The key here is that we're working on a bipartisan effort," Gershenson said. "We're here to work together and hope that that attitude gets around to the state and to Washington."