Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Michigan County Gun Boards: Organization, Duties, & Powers

Michigan County Gun Boards are legal entities empowered by law - Public Act 381 of 2000 - to provide oversight and governance of about 176,000 Concealed Pistol Licensees (CPLs) in the state. Michigan law requires that every county in Michigan shall have a gun board. This article will detail the organization, duties, and powers of county gun boards.

Organizational Structure With County Prosecutor's Involvement
State law requires that each County Gun Board will have the following members:

  • The County Prosecutor or his designee
  • The County Sheriff of his designee
  • The Director of the Michigan State Police or his designee

The County Prosecutor serves as the Chairman of the County Gun Board.

The County Clerk shall serve as the Clerk of the County Gun Board.

Organizational Structure Without County Prosecutor
The County Prosecutor is the only specified person in the statute who can "opt-out" of participating on the County Gun Board. Should he elect to not participate, he "shall" notify the County Board of Commissioners - in writing - of his desire to not serve on the gun board for the remaining duration of his current term.

If the County Prosecutor tenders his resignation from his statutory position on the gun board, the County Commission will appoint a firearms instructor - who is certified by the state of Michigan or a national organization to teach the eight hour long Basic Pistol Safety Training Class - to serve on the gun board in the absence of the County Prosecutor for the duration of the County Prosecutor's current term in office.

The appointment of the firearms instructor to the gun board will remain in effect unless the County Commission removes him "with cause" from the gun board. In the event of the initial firearms instructor's removal from the gun board, the County Commission will appoint another certified firearms instructor to complete the term.

The County Prosecutor, despite his desire to not participate on the County Gun Board, shall be notified of all Concealed Pistol License (CPL) Applications received by the County Gun Board. Further, the County Prosecutor shall be given an opportunity to object to the granting of a CPL to an applicant and to present evidence that "bears directly on an applicant’s suitability to carry a concealed pistol safely." Moreover, the County Prosecutor shall disclose to the gun board any information of which he has actual knowledge that bears directly on an applicant’s suitability to carry a concealed pistol safely.

The members of the seated gun board will elect one of its members of the gun board to serve as Chairman.

The County Clerk shall serve as the Clerk of the County Gun Board.

Michigan County Gun Board Duties

Duty 1. Inform CPL Applicants About Michigan Firearms Laws
The County Gun Board is required to distribute to each CPL applicant - at the time that a CPL application is submitted - a copy of a compilation of all firearms laws in the state of Michigan. Every CPL applicant must sign a form attesting that he received the book. Else, he can not be later issued a CPL.

Duty 2. Maintain CPL Applications As Public Records
The County Gun Board is required to retain a copy of each CPL application as an official record. The statute is silent as to what purpose this serves. Perhaps, the CPL applications can be used as evidence in cases where an applicant has made a material false statement.

Duty 3. Issue Concealed Pistol Licenses In A Timely Manner
The County Gun Board is required to issue a CPL - within the proper time limits established by state law - to a CPL applicant who properly submits a CPL application and who meets the requirements for a CPL.

The Michigan State Police is required by law to forward the FBI's fingerprint comparison report of the CPL applicant to the applicant's County Gun Board within 10 days after receiving it. The County Gun Board must issue or deny issuance of a CPL to a CPL applicant within 30 days after the County Gun Board receives the fingerprint comparison report from the Michigan State Police.

If the fingerprint comparison report is not received by the County Gun Board within 30 days after the report is forwarded to the Michigan State Police by the FBI, the County Gun Board shall issue a temporary CPL to the CPL applicant if the CPL applicant is otherwise qualified for a CPL.

A temporary CPL issued under these circumstances is valid for 180 days or until the County Gun Board receives the fingerprint comparison report. If the CPL applicant with the temporary CPL is later denied regular CPL status, the CPL applicant shall immediately surrender the temporary CPL to the County Gun Board that issued that temporary CPL.

The County Gun Board is not required to issue a CPL if the FBI determines that the CPL applicant's fingerprints are "unclassifiable." A status of unclassifiable means that a determination could not be made as to whether the CPL applicant has a criminal record. This situation is usually caused by unclear or smudged fingerprints.

Duty 4. Must Notify Denied Applicants Of Their Right To Appeal
If County Gun Board denies issuance of a CPL, it shall within 5 business days do both of the following:

  • Inform the applicant in writing of the reasons for the denial. Information shall include all of the following:
    • A statement of the specific and articulable facts supporting the denial.
    • Copies of any writings, photographs, records, or other documentary evidence upon which the denial is based.

  • Inform the applicant in writing of his right to appeal the denial in a Circuit Court hearing.


Michigan County Gun Board Powers

1. Exclusive Authority Over CPL Licensing
The County Gun Board, notwithstanding an order from a Circuit Court, has exclusive authority to issue, deny, revoke, or suspend a license to carry a concealed pistol. Only two members of the County Gun Board are needed to establish a quorum. In addition, the business of the County Gun Board shall be conducted by a majority vote of all of the members of the County Gun Board.

A County Gun Board may not convene more than three panels to assist it with its evaluations of CPL applicants. These panels do not have the authority to issue, deny, revoke, or suspend a CPL. Further, these panels - if used - shall be comprised of representatives from the Prosecutor's Office (if on the board), the Michigan State Police, and the County Sheriff's Office.

1A. CPL Revocations
A County Gun Board that issued a CPL to an applicant may revoke his CPL if the County Gun Board determines any of the following:

  • The licensee committed a violation, other than a civil infraction as defined by PA 381 of 2000.
  • The licensee is not statutorily eligible to have a CPL.

In both of the aforementioned cases, a revocation can not transpire until a written complaint has been made and the CPL licensee has had at least ten day's notice to appear at a hearing on the matter.

1B. CPL Suspensions
A County Gun Board, upon learning of a licensee being found responsible for three of more civil infractions during his current licensed term - as defined in PA 381 of 2000 - must conduct a hearing and may suspend the CPL for no more than a year.

A County Gun Board that receives notification from law enforcement that a CPL holder has been charged with a felony or a misdemeanor, as defined in Public Act 381 of 2000, must suspend the permit until there is a final disposition on the charges.

A County Gun Board, upon having clear and convincing evidence based on specific articulable facts that a licensee poses a danger to himself or to any other person, shall immediately suspend the individual’s license pending a revocation hearing.

2. Authority To Investigate CPL Applicants
A County Gun Board is authorized to conduct investigations on CPL applicants to the extent necessary to determine whether the applicant meets the requirements of being eligible to receive a CPL. Once that determination is made, the investigation ceases. The County Gun Board may require an applicant to appear before it to assist it with its investigation. The failure of an applicant to appear, without valid reason, is sufficient grounds for the County Gun Board to deny the license.

3. Authority To Issue Temporary CPLs
A County Gun Board has the authority to immediately issue a temporary CPL to a CPL applicant if it determines there is probable cause to believe the safety of the applicant or the safety of a member of the applicant’s family is endangered by the applicant’s inability to immediately obtain a regular CPL. A temporary license shall be unrestricted and shall be valid for not more than 180 days. A temporary CPL may be renewed for one additional period of not more than 180 days.
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