County gun boards abolished in Mich. starting Tuesday
Lansing — Michigan’s 488,000 concealed handgun license holders will soon see a change in how permits are issued.
Starting Tuesday, three-member county gun boards will no longer issue, deny, revoke or suspend licenses. County clerks will assume the responsibilities while the Michigan State Police will conduct checks to see if applicants are legally disqualified due to their age, criminal history, mental illness or other factors.
The cost of an initial application and license will drop from $105 to $100, not including a fingerprinting fee. The cost of a renewal application and license, which are good for four to five years, will rise from $105 to $115.
An initial license will have to be issued or disqualified within 45 days of fingerprints being taken instead of within 45 days of a licensing board getting a fingerprint analysis from the state police. A renewal must be issued or denied within 30 days instead of the current 60-day deadline.
The law is the latest step toward making Michigan a true “shall-issue” state, in which a permit has to be issued as long as an applicant has taken a gun safety course, has no felony convictions and meets other requirements such as not being subject to a protection order. The measure eliminates the ability to deny a license to someone not explicitly disqualified by law but who still might pose a safety risk, which has led gun control advocates to warn that an important safeguard is going away as well as gun boards’ practice of interviewing applicants in person.
Of the 2,081 applications denied in the 2013-14 fiscal year, 349 were denied because a gun board decided it would be detrimental to the safety of the applicant or others.
Supporters have said Michigan was the last state with local gun boards and a 2001 law was supposed to make Michigan a “shall issue” state, but keeping in place gun boards continued to result in different implementation depending on the county. County clerks, who were doing the administrative work of gun boards (which consisted of the county prosecutor, sheriff and a state police representative) will assume a similar but expanded role.
The National Rifle Association has said the new law will eliminate licensing delays, arbitrary denials, and requests to appear before gun boards and be asked “the basis for wishing to exercise a constitutional right.”
Beginning Tuesday, clerks also will be required to issue a temporary emergency concealed carry license if an applicant has obtained a personal protection order or a county sheriff determines the applicant’s safety is at risk.