http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070227/NEWS05/702270351/1138/BLOG apeer Co. Sheriff's office to sell machine gun to the highest bidder Department needs the money February 27, 2007 BY STEVE NEAVLING FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER You, too, could be the proud owner of an automatic weapon -- courtesy of the Lapeer County Sheriff's Office. Via its Web site, www.county.lapeer.org/sheriff, the department is auctioning off a fully automatic M16, dating to the mid-1970s and capable of firing about 700 rounds a minute. The only requirement is that bidders have a machine gun permit -- available to any adult who doesn't have a criminal record. Advertisement Purchased by the department for $500 in the '70s, the weapon, which Lapeer's law enforcers thought might be needed in the event of an emergency like a hostage crisis, has never been fired outside of a shooting range. Undersheriff Robert Rapson said Monday he thinks it may be worth as much as $17,000 now. So what's a county sheriff's department doing selling a fully automatic machine gun? What else? Raising money. Rapson said his office hasn't received a budget increase in six years and desperately needs funds for new guns and other equipment for its 82 deputies. "We are a small county, and we need to take advantage of this," Rapson said. "We've had to cut to the bone for a long time." On its Web site, the sheriff's office began taking bids two weeks ago; the deadline is May 1. The Colt M16 A1 is described as "collector quality ... in excellent to new condition." "This is the real deal from the Colt factory and marked as M16 with safe, semi and auto selector switch," the Web site reads. Rapson said he's not worried about a potential safety threat because he's confident that the background check and permit process -- which anyone interested in the weapon must go through with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives -- will weed out potential bidders who might have criminal intentions. But gun control advocates say it could end up in the wrong hands. "Even the most reasonable gun owner doesn't want to see this kind of weapon in circulation," said Shikha Hamilton, president of the Michigan chapter of Million Mom March, a gun control group. "The fact that a law enforcement agency is selling a dangerous weapon is appalling." A 1986 federal law banned the sale of new automatic weapons but allowed those already in circulation to be legally sold. A few states have passed laws outlawing the sale of all automatic guns, but Michigan is not among them. There are more than 6,500 registered machine guns in Michigan, according to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.