Ryan Felton in Detroit
A Michigan law that goes into effect Tuesday has eliminated an individualized gun license screening that critics say has prevented many potentially dangerous individuals from obtaining a concealed carry license.
The law to eliminate local gun boards marks a long-sought legislative victory for gun rights advocates, who argued the boards indiscriminately rejected applicants, and comes as the Michigan legislature is set to continue debating a bill that would expand access to guns across the state.
But critics of the gun board elimination say local law enforcement officials have lost a safety net to prevent concealed pistol license (CPL) applicants with mental health issues or criminal backgrounds from obtaining a license.
For nearly 90 years, Michigan counties used a three-member gun board – comprised of local law enforcement officials – to either issue, deny, revoke or suspend such licenses.
If an individual wasn’t explicitly disqualified under state law, the boards could still deny a license following a face-to-face interview with an applicant, which could reveal issues that otherwise wouldn’t emerge in a criminal background check. Nearly 350 applicants were denied a license by a gun board in the fiscal year 2013-2014.
“Local law enforcement often knows persons who are not safe to have a CPL,” said Jerry Walden of the 220-member group Physicians for the Prevention of Gun Violence, during his testimony in February against the change.
“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.”
Under the change, county clerks and state police will now assume responsibility for the application process. Applicants are required to disclose whether they’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness, but federal law prohibits Michigan state police – which will now determine an applicant’s eligibility – from accessing mental health records, unless involuntary treatment has been ordered by a court.
Complete article link below.
Michigan law takes effect eliminating gun license screening by local boards http://gu.com/p/4ekc4/stw