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Local officials concerned with changes in CPL process

The Antrim Review of Bellaire, Michigan

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BELLAIRE — The State of Michigan has made several changes to the process of applying for a Concealed Pistol License, or CPL, which local officials say will not only create additional work for the Antrim County Clerk's Office and 86th District Court, but perhaps allow the wrong people to be in possession of a CPL.

Antrim County Sheriff Dan Bean said the changes eliminate the need for the prosecuting attorney, sheriff, and gun board to be involved in the application process. "Which is not necessarily a good thing," he said. "The appearance before the county gun board, which consists of representatives from the Michigan State Police, Antrim County Prosecutor's Office, our office, and the Clerk's Office, has always been a very important part of the process, in my opinion, as that's where you can discover that whoever it is that's applying for the CPL really shouldn't have one."

"People can appear to be just fine, mentally, until you sit down and talk to them. That's when you can realize that something's not quite right," he continued. "We've had that happen several times, but in the past, we were always able to just deny their application based on the results of their interview with the gun board. We won't have that anymore, and that concerns me."

After completing a CPL course and passing a required test, prospective concealed carry holders fill out and return an application to the county clerk's office, along with a $105 fee, said Micki Hocking from the Antrim County Clerk's Office. "Once they take an oath and turn in their form, new applicants go over to the sheriff's office to be fingerprinted so a criminal background check can be done," Hocking continued. "None of that is going to change with the elimination of the gun boards, to my knowledge."

Until then, applicants who pass the background check successfully will then be notified of their scheduled appearance before the board. If the board is satisfied, their application is approved and they will receive their CPL card at that time.

While some counties have the capability to take a photo of the applicant for their CPL card, an applicant in Antrim County must provide a passport quality photo taken elsewhere, Hocking added.

After the change goes into effect on December 1, background check results will go to the Michigan State Police, which will notify the county whether the permit is approved or denied.

The county clerk's office will then have to mail the permit to the applicant. The clerk's office is also now required to notify permit holders when their CPL is about to expire. CPL's must be renewed every five years. "They don't have to get fingerprinted again, but they must meet all of the other requirements, such as having a background check done, completing and being tested on the CPL course, and provide a new photo as well as the fee," Hocking said.

Additionally, the clerk's office must periodically check to see if any current permit holders have been charged with crimes, which jeopardizes the permits. If an inquiry shows that a CPL permit holder has been charged with a crime, the Antrim County Clerk's Office is to notify 86 District Court, which will then issue an order to suspend their license, pending the outcome of the case. Follow up is also required to determine whether the CPL permit should be returned.

"It's just that the county will not have a gun board anymore," said Bean. "No one will have that personal, one on one contact with an applicant."

In 2014, the Antrim County Gun Board approved 108 new CPLs, and renewed 210. Seven permits were suspended, three were revoked, and seven were refused.

A record 53 applicants were scheduled to attend the monthly gun board meeting held on June 19. Of those, four applicants had previously been denied the right to hold a CPL, with one applicant's permit suspended, one revoked, one previously denied, and one applying for a restoration of their firearm's rights. By law, convicted felons in Michigan cannot be in possession of a firearm of any type.

All gun board meetings are open to the public.

"We'll just have to see how it all works out," said Bean. "The legislation that brought this all about was intended to streamline the process, but what they've done is possibly put the general public at risk."

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Original Publication Date: July 2, 2015

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