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Detroit Legal Blog

Major Change in Michigan Gun Licensing

Dec 08, 2015, by Maurice Davis in Criminal Defense, Firearms Charges, Legal Blog

Michigan’s gun policy will change significantly on December 1, 2015, when county boards will no longer review applications for concealed handgun licenses. Instead, county clerks will make the decisions. This will make it significantly easier for people to obtain handgun licenses.

In 2001, there were 58,000 people with handgun permits in Michigan. Today, that number has swelled to half a million and in light of the recent law change, that number will probably keep growing.

Michigan Will Become a “Shall Issue” State

The new law means that county clerks must issue handgun permits to people who meet the minimum requirements of gun ownership in Michigan:

  • No proven history of mental illness
  • Not subject of a restraining order
  • Completed safety training
  • Not a convicted felon

Under the old law, the county boards could still deny licenses to people who met these requirements. The boards, composed of a county prosecutor, sheriff, and a state police representative, denied licenses to around 350 out of over 2,000 applicants in 2013.

Although handgun license applicants must disclose whether they’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness, federal law prohibits Michigan state police from accessing people’s health records. They will only be able to see whether a court has judged an applicant to be mentally ill.

The new law also reduces the cost of applying for a license from $105 to $100. By 2018, license holders should be able to renew online and the fees will increase from $105 to $155. Applicants will also have to pay a fingerprinting fee.

Will Looser Restrictions Result in More Dangerous People Having Handguns?

Supporters of the old law say that the additional screening, which sometimes involved a face-to-face interview with the board, kept some mentally ill or criminally inclined people from getting handgun licenses.

Since the board was composed of local officials, they were relatively well placed to judge which citizens were unfit to carry firearms. In some cases, they would refuse a license to someone whom the police had observed behaving violently or erratically—even if such behavior never led to the kind of conviction that would bar that person from gun ownership under the new law.

In his testimony against the law change, Jerry Walden of the Physicians for the Prevention of Gun Violence, defended the board’s discretion to deny applicants who were not felons:

“Examples of those denied licenses include juveniles with serious records, domestic abusers with misdemeanors or no felonies because their victim would not go to court, serious alcoholics and drug abusers – who will all be free to obtain a CPL under this new law.”

How Can States Limit Second Amendment Rights?

In a recent Supreme Court decision interpreting the second amendment, Justice Scalia wrote that states have the authority to make laws that:

  • Prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons
  • Rule out gun possession for felons or the mentally ill
  • Make it illegal to carry firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings
  • Impose conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms
  • Prohibit dangerous and unusual weapons
  • Regulate firearm storage to prevent accidents

Michigan defense attorney Maurice Davis is a criminal defense lawyer whose practice is focused on defending the rights of the citizens of Detroit and its surrounding communities. If you’re facing criminal charges and want to speak with an experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney, call Davis Law Group today at (313) 818-3238 for a free and confidential consultation.