Fenton’s new police chief Jason Slater discusses gun control, looking for a way to decrease violence

Carly Riggs and Gracie Warda

When former a Fenton student, Brady Morris, lost his life in a shooting incident he became part of the 48 percent of teens that are killed by another that the victim considered a friend according to crchealth.com. This loss, along with many others, highlights the dramatic increase in gun violence among adolescents. Rather than the guns laws themselves, poor enforcement of gun laws or lack of knowledge could attribute to this rise.

“I feel that our current gun control laws are sufficient; the key is that these laws need to be enforced, and they need to be enforced correctly,” Police Chief Jason Slater said. “In regards to, for example, the CPL statue [Concealed Pistol License] it’s pretty strict in regards to who they allow to carry a gun, you could not have been convicted of even a misdemeanor in the last eight years. The problem with gun control laws at times, is the people who are law abiding that want to legally possess a gun, get a CPL or have it for home protection are the ones that are affected.”

A study conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF) found that 93 percent of the guns that are used in gun crimes are obtained illegally opposed to the small percentage of gun crimes committed by legal owners.

“These people follow the law and get the proper training but there will always be criminals that are obviously not concerned with conforming to the statues that are put into place,” Slater said. “That being said, these people looking to legally obtain a weapon or have a CPL need to realize that carrying or owning a gun is a real responsibility and they must comply with what the law says.”

Even if a legal permit for the open carry, or ownership of a firearm, is produced, Michigan law prohibits carrying a firearm in certain locations like churches, daycares, courts and hospitals pursuant to MCL 28.245o. Individuals found carrying firearms in banned locations face potential fines and jail time.

“Fenton has a lower crime rate comparatively to the other cities near us and all across Michigan; you drive 20 minutes north of here and it is completely different from what we experience,” Slater said. “That being said, we have had our issues, just down in Fenton township there was the shooting that resulted in the death of a young man, a couple years ago we had a shooting on North Leroy Street where a person was upset with his neighbor. It does impact us all, but in regards to our community we have been very lucky not to have a lot of gun violence and crime involving firearms is a low percentage of the crime that we deal with.”

Levels of gun crime in adolescents in Michigan have been increasing at a considerable rate over the past five years according to the Citizen’s Crime Report. Since 2012, robberies, assaults, burglaries and murders with a deadly weapon for adolescents under the age of 21 have all gone up by roughly 2.12 percent.

“I think the one way that we can decrease gun violence is to change the whole culture that almost glorifies guns in a way, making them out to be cool or make you look tough,” Slater said. “The whole culture needs to change, we need to start with kids, provide them with a good home life, give them opportunities and show them that running the streets doesn’t get you anywhere in life and that this will come to you as you get older.”

It can be difficult to decipher all of the gun laws in Michigan, but it can be crucial to safety in the community. To learn more about these laws, go to http://www.michigan.gov/msp.