Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Michigan County Gun Boards: Appearance Tips

Some Michigan Concealed Pistol License (CPL) applicants will face an additional hurdle in their quest for the privilege of carrying a concealed firearm: an appearance before their respective County Gun Board.

The passage of Michigan PA 381 of 2000 essentially removed most of the discretionary authority from the County Gun Boards. Thus, instead of the County Gun Board having the last word as to whether an applicant will receive a CPL, a CPL applicant "shall" receive a CPL once he has demonstrated that he has met all of the the state's rigid requirements. Many Michigan County Gun Boards, however, still require an appearance before them as part of the official process. An applicant's failure to appear "without valid reason" can lead to a legally valid denial of the CPL.

Many CPL applicants view an invitation to appear before their respective County Gun Boards as a positive development, as a possible alternative could have been a "flat-out" CPL rejection. The prudent applicant, however, should view this appearance requirement as another opportunity to be denied their desired CPL. Thus, the appearance requirement must not be taken lightly.

An appearance before a County Gun Board is an official proceeding. CPL applicants should treat their impending participation in it with the same level of respect and reverence as they would if they were criminal defendants facing a trial. All applicants are sworn in by a County Deputy Clerk before they are interrogated. Further, all statements made by applicants are recorded and are kept as an official record to be stored and archived by the County Clerk for an unspecified period of time.

One the first things that a CPL applicant should decide, upon receiving a County Gun Board Appearance Notification, is whether he should hire an attorney to represent him at the hearing.

The CPL statute authorizes the County Gun Boards to conduct investigations on CPL applicants to the extent of determining whether he qualifies for a CPL. At the time that there has been enough evidence discovered to make that determination, the investigation ceases.

If an applicant "technically" meets all of the state's requirements but may have an item in his background that might make a "jittery" County Gun Board reluctant to approve his permit, a lawyer should be hired to represent the applicant. The lawyer's role in this process, at that point, is to explain why the applicant should be issued a CPL while at the same time preserve grounds for a legally viable appeal in Circuit Court if the applicant is rejected for a CPL.

Notwithstanding any items that are of particular interest to the County Gun Board about a specific applicant with "unusual" circumstances, the County Gun Board may ask an applicant a series of questions to determine "his suitability" as defined under the statute for a CPL. Questions that they often ask applicants, include but is not limited to the following list:

  • Why are you requesting a CPL?
  • Have you ever been convicted of a felony?
  • Have you ever been arrested on a drug-related charge?
  • Have you ever been arrested on a an alcohol-related charge?
  • Do you have any history of a mental illness?
  • Have you ever received a PPO from someone?
  • Have you ever issued a PPO against someone?
  • Have you ever served in the military?


Another consideration for a County Gun Board appearance could include the CPL applicant making the decision to take the day off from work. Gun Boards pretty much conduct business as they see fit. As such, they may tell you to report at 9:00 a.m. and not start conducting hearings until 11:00 a.m. They are not required to conduct business at any set time nor are they required to conduct hearings in any specific order. The best advice for a CPL applicant is for him to arrive at least an hour early, for him plan to stay late, and for him to not forget to bring his Appearance Letter with him.

Furthermore, if only for the sake of appearances, the CPL applicant should be dressed for business. You may not "have to" dress smartly but it only makes good sense to dress for success and make a good first impression.

Moreover, proper etiquette should also be observed: take off your hat, turn off your cell phone and pager, don't chew gum, or be a disruption by talking when other applicants are being vetted for their CPLs. All things considered, depending on your circumstances, proper behavior might make a difference especially if others are treating this exercise lightly.

Good Luck!
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