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Michigan Democrats Push Measures To Fight Gun Violence

LANSING (WWJ/AP) - Michigan House Democrats are introducing legislation aimed at reducing gun violence in Michigan, including expanding background checks for gun purchases.

Reps. Jim Townsend of Royal Oak, Vicki Barnett of Farmington Hills and Andy Schor of Lansing announced the legislation Thursday.

One of the measures would expand the current permit-to-purchase process for pistols to all guns. Townsend says his legislation would require residents buying any kind of gun to get a permit from local law enforcement and pass a background check.

That process currently only applies to pistols.

"Why do 83 percent of Michigan voters and, I'm told, a majority of people who belong to the NRA, agree that we need to have universal background checks," Townsend said in an interview with WWJ Newsradio 950.  "If it infringed on their rights, I don't think there would be so much overwhelming support for this."

Townsend said there has certainly been enough gun violence here in Michigan since the first of the year.

"I know, from looking at statistics, there have been over 150 gun deaths in the state of Michigan," Townsend said. "We've been fortunate, in recent years, that we haven't had a mass tragedy. But do we really have to wait for some terrible tragedy to happen in Michigan on a mess scale to do the right thing? I hope not."

Another measure would ensure that insurance co-pays for physical health services and mental health services are the same. This is required under the federal Affordable Health Care Act, but Barnett says it won't apply to people on large employer plans until 2017.

The bills being introduced in Michigan Thursday are similar to bills that failed at the federal level.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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