Sunday, October 5, 2008

Michigan Concealed Pistol License: Application Submission Tips

Despite the existence of a uniform state-wide Concealed Pistol License (CPL) Law, many Michigan county gun boards continue to exert their influence on the application process via a varying array of methods of following the law. For example, many Michigan county gun boards still require CPL applicants to still appear before them before a final decision is made on their application.

One of the major purposes and consequences of the aforementioned law was to remove the "discretionary" and "arbitrary" idiosyncracies from the CPL process, such that qualitative analyses - that were typically made in the past - at a gun board appearance were rendered moot; the applicant either meets the requirements or he doesn't.

Nevertheless, many county gun boards still insist on retaining the appearance of control even though that era of "discretionary licensing" has long passed. The purpose of this document is provide the CPL applicant with a "best practices" process to follow when submitting his CPL application to his resident county gun board to reduce the likelihood of application submission and processing delays.

The first thing that a prospective CPL applicant should do is to make sure that his Course Completion Certificate (CCC) from his Basic Pistol Safety Training Class complies with the state of Michigan's statutory requirements. Although, Michigan law (PA 254 of 2004) does "not require that a specific form, color, wording, or other content" appear on a CCC, "except as provided in subsection (5)". Thus, a valid certificate shall have the following features:
  • A statement that the named student successfully completed the class.
  • A statement certifying that "This course complies with section 5j of 1927 PA 372."
  • The printed name of the firearms instructor.
  • The signature of the firearms instructor.

A CCC missing any of the aforementioned feautures could be refused by your county gun board. Thus, you need to be sure your CCC is compliant. Else, you'll need to track down your certified firearms instructor and ask him to make the necessary updates to your CCC or ask him to issue you another one that is compliant to the law.

The next thing that a prospective CPL student should do is to ensure that he has the latest revision of the Michigan Concealed Pistol License Application (Form RI-012). Depending on the county, your application may not be accepted even if your county had the wrong version posted on its web site. Thus, to be absolutely sure that you have the latest version of the application, you should only download it from the state of Michigan's official web site.

After obtaining a CPL Application, you should fill it out completely, with the exception of signing it, before you arrive at your county clerk's office. Depending on the county, you will not be assisted by county staff until your application is completed; you will lose your place in line. Furthermore, your application must be signed in the presence of a County Deputy Clerk. If it is already signed, you may be forced to fill out another application.

Furthermore, at least one metropolitan Detroit county gun board has established "county rules" as to what constitutes an acceptable reference for use on the CPL Application, despite a lack of authorization to do so under state law. In fact, state law specifically has a "preemption clause" in the CPL Law that specifically forbids the practice of cities and other levels of government from overriding and modifying provisions established by the legislature.

Nevertheless, until it is challenged by a resident "harmed" by the process, residents of this county must provide two references who have different residences. Also, neither reference can share the same residence of the applicant.

In general, it is always a good idea to call ahead and confirm a few items before you arrive at your county clerk's office to submit your application. Be admonished, that at least one populous county clerk's office in southeast Michigan is notorious for not answering the telephone regardless of the day, date, or time.

Some things that you would like to know before-hand include the following:
  • Whether that office takes applicant photos
  • Whether that office takes applicant fingerprints
  • What forms of payment they take for the $105 application fee

If your county clerk's office provides an option for you to have your passport-style picture taken for a fee, even if it costs twice as much as you could have it done elsewhere, you should let them take it. For starters, it saves you one trip to make and - more importantly - you don't have to worry if your picture is compliant to the picture specifications listed in the application:
Passport Photo standards: Taken alone, sufficiently recent to be a good likeness (normally taken within the last 6 months), with an image size from bottom of chin to top of head (including hair) of between 1 and 1 3/8 inches. Photo must be clear, front view, full face, taken in normal street attire without a hat or dark glasses with a white or off-white background. They must be capable of withstanding a mounting temperature of 225° Fahrenheit (107° Celsius). Snapshots, most vending machine prints, and magazine or full-length photographs are unacceptable.

In short, they can't refuse to take your application if the photo doesn't meet their requirements. After all, they took it.

Moreover, it is also a good idea to know if your county clerk's office will be taking your fingerprints. Some offices have kiosk-style machines where they can do it in the office. If your county offers this option, you should avail yourself of the opportunity, as it saves you from taking a trip to the county Sheriffs Office.

Further, you would also like to know what manner of payment your county clerk's office accepts for the payment of your application fee. The manner of payment varies widely - on a county basis. Some county clerk offices accept all or a subset of the following payment options: Money Order, Cashier's Check, Certified Check, Personal Check, Cash, Visa™, & MasterCard™

Please keep in mind that your receipt for your application fee is important. It serves both as proof that you paid your application fee and authorizes the Sheriff's Office to take your fingerprints without an additional charge AND it serves as the official date that you turned in your CPL Application for statutory time-keeping purposes. Don't lose it!

In conclusion, the process by which an applicant officially applies for a Michigan Concealed Pistol License has many pitfalls that can delay processing. Hopefully, by reading this document, you will not suffer from the bureaucratic snafus that have inconvenienced applicants before you.

Good Luck!

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