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Michigan: 10 years after concealed weapons law, unclear why many in state were gun-sh

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Unread 08.01.11, 12:31 PM
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Michigan: 10 years after concealed weapons law, unclear why many in state were gun-sh

Posted: 08.01.11 01:27 AM


BY DAWSON BELL AND GINA DAMRON





Zoom
Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon



Michigan Concealed Pistol License requirements


Here are some of the requirements to get a CCW. You must:
Be 21 or older.
Be a citizen and resident of Michigan for six months prior to application.
Successfully complete a handgun safety training course.
Not have any court finding of mental illness or involuntary hospitalization.
Not have a felony conviction (or unresolved charge), or conviction on specified misdemeanors eight years prior to application.
Not have a dishonorable discharge from the military.
For a complete listing, go to the Michigan State Police.


No packing heat allowed in these places


Even those licensed to carry a concealed weapon, can't do so in the following locations:
Schools
Day care centers
Sports or entertainment arenas and stadiums
Taverns
Churches, synagogues, mosques or other places of worship
Hospitals
Colleges or university living quarters
Casinos

For a complete listing, go to the Michigan State Police's pistol-free areas page.





First of two parts
Part 2: More gun licenses, more debatesRelated: Interactive map: CCW registration by Michigan county | Michiganders get armed to feel safer, because it's their right to do so | 2 shootings produce 2 outcomes
Ten years after Michigan made it much easier for its citizens to get a license to carry a concealed gun, predictions of widespread lawless behavior and bloodshed have failed to materialize.

Today, nearly 276,000 -- or about four out of every 100 eligible adult Michiganders -- are licensed.
That's more than twice the number predicted when the debate raged over whether Michigan should join the growing ranks of so-called "shall issue" states.
Before July 1, 2001, applicants had to prove why they needed to carry a gun for protection. Since then, any nominally sane adult without a felony record qualifies.
During the debate, opponents of the change warned of gun-toting, trigger-happy citizens loose on the streets.
But violent crimes have been rare among carrying a concealed weapon license holders. Only 2% of license holders have been sanctioned for any kind of misbehavior, State Police records show.
Still, anti-gun activists say changing the law was a grave mistake. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Web site describes state reforms like the one enacted in Michigan as "a recipe for disaster."
Michigan's prosecuting attorneys association led the push against changing the law in 2001. Today, Ionia County Prosecutor Ronald Schafer, president of the group, says it's hard to remember what the fuss was about.
"I think you can look back and say, 'It was a big nothing.' "
Concealed weapons haven't changed state much, both sides of debate say

It was only 10 years ago. But it seems more like another lifetime, when one of the biggest issues facing Michigan's politicians and the public was whether to make it easier for ordinary citizens to obtain permits to carry concealed weapons.
At the time, advocates and opponents raged, hurling arguments about bedrock constitutional freedoms and Columbine massacres on every corner.
The reformers -- who wanted Michigan to join the growing number of states where carrying a concealed gun is the right of any nominally sane adult without a felony record -- sneaked the legislation through in a lame duck session (and managed to immunize it from potential referendum). They predicted it would usher in a new era of civility as criminals came to realize they weren't the only ones on the street packing heat.
The opponents gnashed teeth about an impending bloodbath.
What happened?
By nearly all accounts, not much.
The number of citizens issued Concealed Pistol Licenses has soared. In 2001 when the law took effect, about 52,000 people were authorized to carry concealed weapons in Michigan (in most counties, permits were limited to retired police officers and those deemed by authorities to have a need, such as cash couriers).
Since then, the number has grown to nearly 276,000.
But the effects on Michigan's civil society appear to have been far less dramatic.
Whether licensing more people to carry concealed weapons results in more or less violent crime remains debatable. Michigan still has more than its fair share of crime, even as overall crime rates have mostly declined. But it's difficult to argue that CCWs have much impact either way.
Paul Long, president of the Michigan Catholic Conference, was part of the vocal opposition to CCW reform in 2001. He helped organize church-related participation in a petition drive aimed at repealing the law (the one short-circuited by a provision in the CCW legislation that made it referendum-proof).
But asked last week about his current views, Long said, "In all honesty, I don't give it much thought. It just hasn't been much of an issue."
One factor contributing to the decline in the focus on gun regulations was everything that happened in the intervening years. Months after Michigan enacted more permissive CCW licensing, the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks stunned the country. The country went to war and later into an economic tailspin.
"There haven't been as many incidents as we feared," said Tom Hendrickson, executive director of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, which vigorously opposed the reforms.
"It really hasn't been an issue ... because so many superseding issues came along," he said. "In the total scheme of things, it just faded away."
Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said he has always been a proponent of people being able to protect themselves. The troublemakers, generally, aren't the people who go through the process to legally own and carry a gun -- it's the people who carry illegally who cause problems, he said.
"My position was, and still is, is that the people we have a problem with with guns aren't the people who are willing to follow the law and go through the hoops and training," Bouchard said.
Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon said he had been opposed to the law and was concerned about flooding the streets with guns. But, he said, "it has turned out not as bad as I suspected that it would."
Napoleon said he would like to see expanded training for people seeking concealed weapons permits.
Advocates for concealed carry rights contend they have been vindicated. Violent crime is down, said Steve Dulan, a board member for the Michigan Coalition of Responsible Gun Owners.
CCW holders, in the aggregate, have been shown to be more law-abiding than the broader public, he said.
"The debate is pretty much over, and we won," Dulan said.
Washtenaw County Prosecutor Brian Mackie wouldn't go that far. Mackie opposed the 2001 law, and resigned from the county gun board so that he wouldn't be put in the position of authorizing permits for applicants he considered sketchy.
But, on balance, "we've done better than I thought," Mackie said, "We've had far fewer violations by (permit) holders than I feared we would."
Mackie would still like to see more effective procedures to screen for mental instability among applicants.
Ionia County Prosecutor Ronald Schafer said the raging debate that preceded enactment of the new CCW law appears, in retrospect, to have been a little overwrought.
"We were all a little too caught up imagining what might happen," he said.
Contact Dawson Bell: 517-372-8661 or dbell@freepress.com




The Detroit Free Press
Source: http://www.nraila.org/News/Read/InTheNews.aspx?ID=15381
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10 years after concealed weapons law, unclear why many in state were gun-shy pt2


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The number of CCW permit holders has quintupled to nearly 276,000 in Michigan in 10 years. / WILLIAM ARCHIE/Detroit Free Press






BY DAWSON BELL

DETROIT FREE PRESS LANSING BUREAU







Last of two parts
Part 1: 10 years after concealed weapons law, unclear why many in state were gun-shyRelated: 2 shootings produce 2 outcomes | Interactive map: CCW registration by Michigan county | Michiganders get armed to feel safer, because it's their right to do so
LANSING -- The right to carry a concealed weapon in Michigan -- 10 years ago a red-hot topic -- is pretty much uncontested. No one is talking about rolling back the CCW changes of 2001, or enacting new gun restrictions.
But the argument over whether authorizing more people to carry concealed guns was a good idea continues unabated. The number of CCW permit holders has quintupled to nearly 276,000 in Michigan in 10 years. Advocates of gun rights and gun control don't agree on the facts.
"The case is clear," said Dennis Henigan, interim president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "The premise that (so-called 'shall issue' CCW laws) would make you safer is false. Those laws have been an abject failure."
Hardly, counters John Lott, an economist and author of "More Guns, Less Crime."
The number of permit holders committing crimes is tiny, he said. And the evidence that jurisdictions like Michigan with permissive laws experience a lower incidence of violent crime is "pretty overwhelming," he said.
Data inconsistent on CCW's effects on crime, violence

Some of what passes for research and analysis of the effect of permissive concealed weapons laws on crime and violence is pretty crude.
Take, for instance, the anti-gun Violence Policy Center's Web page called "Concealed Carry Killers." ( www.vpc.org/ccwkillers.htm )
It purports to tally the carnage that results when states, such as Michigan, authorize ordinary citizens under most circumstances to be licensed to carry concealed guns.
Concealed carry licensees "routinely" kill cops, perpetrate mass murders and other gun homicides, writes VPC. The center counted 308 "Private Citizens Killed By Concealed Carry Killer" since 2007. A lot of them -- 78 -- were Michiganders.
A closer look at VPC's data doesn't necessarily confirm a CCW crime nightmare scenario. The overwhelming majority of Michigan victims the center cites (62) were licensees who committed suicide. Michigan's concealed weapons law requires the State Police to report annually on deaths by suicide of license holders.
But the reports contain no information about how the licensee died or whether a firearm was involved.
Several other "victims" in the VPC report appear to have been criminals themselves, shot attempting to rob legally armed citizens. But with 276,000 concealed pistol license holders, even the unscrubbed VPC numbers hardly establish evidence of a crime wave.
One of the few pieces of relative consensus about concealed weapons and crime is that licensees, who in most states, including Michigan, undergo background checks and training, tend to be more law-abiding than the adult population at large.
Dennis Henigan of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, no fan of permissive CCW laws, concedes as much.
But on the broader question of whether such laws make the wider society more or less safe, nothing close to consensus exists.
Henigan said Michigan and other states were sold a bill of goods by the National Rifle Association about how criminals would modify their behavior when they couldn't be sure which potential victims were armed.
Ten years later, Detroit and Flint are among the most crime-ridden cities in the country, he said.
"Criminals don't act that way," Henigan said, "They're not cowering in fear about running into someone else with a gun. There is blood in the streets."
But has the amount of blood been affected by a change in concealed weapons licensing?
Henigan said academic research nationally shows "no downward effect" on crime rates in jurisdictions with liberal concealed carry regulations. Further, he said, the evidence of an increase in aggravated assaults in such jurisdictions is "very clear." Claims to the contrary, he said, have been "thoroughly debunked."
Not surprisingly, the leading claimant to the contrary, economist John Lott, thoroughly disagrees.
During the past 15 years, more than two dozen peer-reviewed analyses of the effect of right-to-carry laws on crime have been published in academic journals, Lott said. Sixteen found that concealed carry reduced crime; 10 suggested no discernible impact. None showed crime to have increased in right-to-carry jurisdictions, Lott said.
Lott recently published the third edition of his 1998 book "More Guns, Less Crime," in which he addresses many of the attacks made upon it in the last decade. But the difficulty of sorting the effects of permissive concealed carry from hundreds of other factors (some of them unquantifiable) that affect crime will remain.
Washtenaw County Prosecutor Brian Mackie, who opposed the 2001 CCW reforms, said it has worked out better than he expected. But maybe, he said, that is because changing the law did not change the number of guns on the street as much as it changed the number of people licensed to carry a gun on the street.
"I wonder how many of them actually carry," Mackie said "Hauling a gun around with you everywhere can be a real pain."
Maybe. Just don't look for a consensus on it.
Contact Dawson Bell: 517-372-8661 or dbell@freepress.com
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