Michigan Standardizes CPL Process by Eliminating County Gun Boards
As of December 1st, County Gun Boards are a thing of the past and Michigan is now a “shall issue” State. Legislation recently signed into law by Governor Snyder establishes a specific set of criteria which, if met, requires the County Clerk to issue a Concealed Pistol License (CPL). Gun Boards and the discretion they exercised are no longer a component of the licensing process.
Gun Boards were three-member panels created under Michigan Law to evaluate and license applicants for CPLs. These panels consisted of the County Prosecutor, County Sheriff, and Director of the State Police, though these duties were usually delegated to subordinates of the heads of those offices.
In addition to conducting background checks, the Gun Board had the power to call applicants to appear before the board before issuing a license. Based on this interview, the Board could decline to issue a license even if the applicant met the statutory requirements. An article published by MLive earlier this year explained how this process was used by the Kent County Gun Board to deny a CPL to Matthew Askins. Mr. Askins met the statutory requirements, however he had encountered the police multiple times over the course of previous 20 years, most of which occurred in the 1990s. None of these encounters had resulted in arrests or prosecution. The Kent County Gun Board denied Mr. Askins’ application by a unanimous decision. A video of a portion of his interview by the board is available online.
Today, these hearings no longer take place and cannot act to justify a denial of an application for a CPL. Applications are now made to the County Clerk who submits a request to the State Police to conduct a background check. The State Police are required to search State and National databases and report to the clerk any disqualifications. While Gun Boards had the power to contact local police departments directly and demand documentation of residency from members of the Armed Services, neither the County Clerk nor State Police hold these powers in relation to CPL applications under the new law.
As long as the applicant has no disqualifying records and has complied with all other application requirements such as participation in training and payment of fees, the County Clerk must issue the CPL.
Michigan was the last state to use a county-based system for concealed carry licensing.
Other changes include:
A county clerk MAY NOT disqualify an individual based on the fact their fingerprints are not classifiable by the FBI, whereas previously the Gun Board could deny an application on this basis.
The 6 month residency requirement MUST be waived if the Sheriff determines by clear and convincing evidence that the applicant or a member of the applicant’s family is endangered by the applicant’s inability to immediately obtain a CPL or if the applicant possesses a valid CPL issued by another State. Previously, the Gun Board could waive the 6 month residency requirement for these reasons if it so chose. In addition, the new law waives the 6 month residency requirement for applicants who are also petitioners for Personal Protection Orders (PPO).
The website for the Michigan State Police contains basic information for applying for a CPL including a list of requirements and disqualifying records.