DETROIT (AP) -
The Michigan Senate on Wednesday rejected a National Rifle Association-backed proposal to let people buy handguns through private sales without undergoing criminal background checks.
The Senate instead voted 27-11 for a substitute proposal that makes it easier for people to apply for gunpermits but retains the checks.
The state House voted in June for a bill to repeal the requirement to undergo a check before buying a handgun. Federal law requires checks before buying guns from licensed dealers but not for private sales. The House bill also would have required police to discard their records of previous gun purchase applications.
The Senate was poised to vote on the House-passed bill Wednesday, but instead agreed on a voice vote to consider a substitute that retained the pre-sale background check provisions.
"Michiganders can be proud of their legislators and governor today," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who co-chairs the 725-member group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, said in a statement. "It's amazing that the Washington gun lobby thought that they could give marching orders to Lansing, but they almost succeeded."
The NRA said it would keep working to repeal Michigan's background check requirement.
"While the amended version ... does not accomplish all of the policy changes originally sought in the legislation as introduced, the NRA remains firmly committed to pursuing these goals early in the next legislative session and finally eliminating the obsolete and wasteful handgun license-to-purchase/registration system," the NRA said in a statement.
The Senate bill makes several steps to ease the gun purchase application process in Michigan. Most notably, it eliminates the requirement that people buying handguns from licensed dealers go through both state and federal background checks. Only people buying guns from private individuals — about 48 percent of Michigan sales, according to the mayors' group — would need the checks.
The bill also extends the period for which a purchase license is valid from 10 days to 30 days. And it expands the locations at which people can obtain applications to more police locations. People now must apply at the police department in the place where they live, but the bill would let them apply at any police agency.
The NRA said it expected the state House to vote Thursday to accept the substitute bill.
The mayors' group called the Senate's vote a "remarkable turnaround" and credited a "furious lobbying effort" to retain the application process.
"We decided to no longer allow a vocal minority to control the politics of guns with partial information and minimal dialogue," Flint Mayor Dayne Walling said in a statement. "And our legislators in Lansing listened."