Huge reforms proposed for concealed handgun laws

Sweeping reforms to Michigan's concealed handgun laws will be voted on by the Senate after the measures were approved 5-1 by a Senate committee.

The changes, the biggest reforms to Michigan's concealed weapons laws in a decade, would allow for gun owners with more training to carry a concealed weapon in "pistol-free" zones, such as churches, schools, college campuses, bars and sports stadiums.

In order to carry a concealed weapon at those places, new applicants must complete 17 hours of training and fire 192 rounds at the firing range. Those who already have permits would have to complete an additional nine hours of training and an extra 94 rounds on the range.

Mount Pleasant senior Matthew Tuzas, assistant state director for Students for Concealed Carry and president of the Central Michigan University chapter, said the proposed legislation would keep campuses safer.

"Laws are only as strong as their enforcement, and I don't see any metal detectors on campus," Tuzas said. "Only law-abiding citizens follow the rules. A pistol-free zone is essentially a protection-free zone, inviting criminals to do as they please. Criminals are going to carry on campus anyway."

For a basic license, the firing range time required at the shooting range would increase from the current 30 rounds to 98 rounds.

Most of the legislation is aimed toward streamlining the approval process.

The legislation would also eliminate county gun boards that have been in place since 1927. Approval of gun permits would shift to county sheriff departments, which already deal with background checks. Isabella County Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski declined to comment on the proposal.

Licenses would have to be approved within 45 days of the application being submitted; otherwise, a temporary permit must be issued. Under current law, a license must be handed out within 45 days of complete background and fingerprint checks.

Counties would no longer be able to charge more money beyond the $105 application fee .

Additionally, applicants who appeal a denied application in court and fail to overturn the decision would not be forced pay the county's court and attorney costs. However, courts could increase costs for those who successfully appeal.

Measures included in the bill would also aim to ensure mandatory annual reports of permit holders who break the law are more accurate. An MLive investigation from last year found many prosecutors and clerks did not do these reports, and if they did, they were often inaccurate.

Ken Silfven, Gov. Rick Snyder's deputy press secretary, said the governor still needs to look over the legislation.

"The governor supports the overall goal of streamlining the process, but he'll need to thoroughly review the actual language in the legislation before making a determination," Silfven said.

Though the SCC does not have an official stance on the legislation, Tuzas said he supports the legislation.

"Any advocate of an efficient and fair government would support these changes, not just gun owners," Tuzas said.


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