Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How To Handle An Erroneously Rejected Michigan Concealed Pistol License Application

According to the latest available annual statistics - at this writing - published in the "2007/2008 Concealed Pistol License Annual Report," on the Michigan State Police web site, exactly 744 of the 33,411 submitted Concealed Pistol License (CPL) Applications were rejected.

Documented classifications for the rejections included the following: Invalid Age (1), No Proof Of Gun Safety Training (5), Invalid Resident/Citizenship Status (4), Active Mental Health or Protection Orders (5), Mental Health Issue (13), Felony Conviction (290), Applicable Misdemeanor Conviction (183), Dishonorable Military Discharge (0), and Licensing Board Decision (243).

There are no compiled statistics, however, on how many CPL applications were - at first - erroneously rejected but later approved. In short, Michigan County Gun Licensing Boards occasionally make mistakes. That fact should not be a surprise when "Licensing Board Decision" rejections - 243 in total - account for one-third of all CPL rejections.

This article will discuss and explore how CPL applications are erroneously rejected, the process by which CPL applicants are notified of their denials, and specify how an erroneously denied CPL applicant can be approved.

How CPL Applications Are Erroneously Rejected

Reviewing CPL applications for approvals is an involved process. The respective County Clerk's Office must ensure that a properly completed application is received, a background check must be performed by the FBI which in turn routes the data back to the Michigan State Police which then sends the info to the respective County Sheriff's Office.

Ultimately, the fingerprint comparison report is eventually sent to the respective County Gun Board with the expectation that a decision on the submitted application - in total - will be announced in a timely manner. This entire process understandably can become a data management and process flow nightmare when you consider how many applications are being simultaneously processed.

According to the latest available monthly Concealed Pistol License County Report - dated December 3rd, 2009, - Wayne County alone processed over 50,000 applications. Within this operating environment, it is plausible that a few mistakes will occur.

Some "erroneous" CPL rejections occur during the Licensing Board Decision process. In theory, the three members of the County Gun Board - one representative from the County Prosecutor's Office, the County Sheriff's Office, and the Michigan State Police - look at each applicant's file and take a vote. If at least two affirmative votes are cast, the CPL application is approved. Else, it is rejected.

Although Public Act 381 of 2000 minimized much of the discretionary licensing authority of County Gun Boards, an obscure passage in the statute allows them to not issue a license if:

Issuing a license to the applicant to carry a concealed pistol in this state is not detrimental to the safety of the applicant or to any other individual. A determination under this subdivision shall be based on clear and convincing evidence of repeated violations of this act, crimes, personal protection orders or injunctions, or police reports or other clear and convincing evidence of the actions of, or statements of, the applicant that bear directly on the applicant's ability to carry a concealed pistol.


In essence, an applicant can pass the criminal background check but be denied licensure on a 2-to-1 judgement call by the County Gun Board. A CPL applicant under the advisement and counsel of an attorney has the right to file suit and attempt to convince a Circuit Court judge that this vote was "capricious and arbitrary" and acquire a CPL.

Another instance in which a CPL rejection can be converted into licensure is by submitting or disclosing information that corrects incorrect info possessed by the County Gun Board. For instance, I have heard of cases in which a person was initially denied a CPL because of erroneous info that was present in the Law Enforcement Information (LEIN) database. Obviously, the solution here is to have the error corrected.

Another source of a licensing error that I have heard about involved the mis-identification of the applicant. In this case, the applicant was confused with his father; with the exception of a suffix (e.g. Sr., Jr., III), their names were identical. Apparently, the father's inability to qualify for a CPL led to his son being erroneously denied. The obvious solution here is to inform the County Gun Board of their error.

Moreover, another erroneous CPL application rejection, I had heard about, involved the County Gun Board not following the letter of the law with respect to eligibility. In this case, an applicant was rejected because he had a "Driving While Impaired - First Offense" conviction. Under the statute, this offense does not disqualify an applicant. The Gun Board erroneously applied the penalty of "Driving While Intoxicated - First Offense" - a three year waiting period.

How CPL Applicants Are Notified Of CPL Application Rejections

If the County Gun Board denies issuance of a CPL to an applicant, the County Gun Board is required by law to do the following within five business days:

  • Inform the applicant in writing of the reasons for the denial.
    • 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 or her right to appeal the denial to the Circuit Court.


How To Contest A CPL Rejection
Presumably, most CPL applicants make themselves aware of the licensing requirements for the permit before submitting an application at their respective County Clerk's office. After all, there's no sense in taking a CPL Training Class and giving the state a $105 application fee on a whim. Thusly, the notification of a rejection "should" come to you as a surprise.

Review the documentation for veracity and accuracy. It is entirely possible that your rejection was either based on erroneous information the County Gun Board had at its disposal or was based in an "arbitrary and capricious" manner - a coin flip.

Consult with an experienced attorney who has documented experience with contesting County Gun Board decisions in Circuit Court. If the two of you jointly believe that you have a winnable case, go forward with a suit. If the court rules in your favor, the judge will order the County Gun Board to immediately issue you a CPL. Furthermore, if the judge determines that your CPL rejection was "arbitrary and capricious," you are entitled to be reimbursed incurred legal representation fees and court costs.

Bottom Line:
Don't assume that the County Gun Board did not err when it evaluated and rejected your CPL application. Mistakes happen. Don't let an error keep you from legally carrying a concealed pistol for your personal protection during these perilous times.
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