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New gun board legislation heads to Gov. Snyder

Gary Heinlein
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — The state Senate gave approval Thursday to legislation that would eliminate county boards that oversee the granting of concealed handgun permits and sent the two bills to Gov. Rick Snyder.

The package is a revised version of late 2014 legislation the governor vetoed, saying he objected because it would have allowed granting hidden-gun permits to people who had judges’ personal protection orders lodged against them.

The new version, passed Wednesday by the state House, doesn’t have this provision. Abuse victims under the protection of such judges’ orders, however, could obtain concealed weapons permits if they or family or household members were in immediate danger.

The Senate approved House changes in the main bill Thursday 28-9 and sent it to Snyder. The governor hasn’t said whether the revisions are sufficient for him to sign them into law.

“We appreciate that lawmakers were able to take another look at the bills after the governor raised concerns ... ,” spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said. “It appears that the concerns have been addressed, though the new legislation will be thoroughly reviewed.”

Sponsored by Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville, the main bill would do away with county gun boards on Dec. 1. Applicants instead would apply for permits through county clerks, submitting fingerprints and proof of certified handgun-use training. They would get permits if they cleared state police and national law enforcement criminal background checks.

The Michigan Association of Counties and some lawmakers object, saying county gun board members are the best judges of which local residents should be granted concealed-carry permits. The boards usually are made up of sheriffs, prosecutors and state police officials.

A Johns Hopkins University researcher argued the bills would remove the ability to deny a license to someone not explicitly disqualified by law but who still might pose a safety risk.

“Because our federal standards are so weak, it’s critical that extra safeguards are in place to deny permits to applicants who pose a danger to society,” said Daniel Webster, editor of a publication about policies to reduce gun violence.

The National Rifle Association and other legislative supporters portray the change as a streamlining of the permit process to make it more uniform and to complete Michigan’s conversion to a “shall issue” state.

Green says Michigan would become the last state to remove gun boards from its concealed weapons permit process.