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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Democrats decry loss of local control as concealed pistol bills clear committee

8 guns laid out on beige carpet
Joshua Shearn
/
Wikimedia Commons / http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

A number of controversial gun bills moved closer to a final vote in the state House Tuesday.

A House panel approved bills that would get rid of county gun boards. Those are panels made up mostly of local law enforcement officials which approve or reject concealed pistol licenses. Those duties would go to county clerks and the State Police.

Most Democrats on the committee voted against the bills.

“Elimination of the local gun boards takes away an important check and balance at the local level where there’s local knowledge about the individuals who are applying for these licenses,” said Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, the top Democrat on the panel.

“In a very small number of circumstances when the local law enforcement individuals know about a problem individual, I think it’s appropriate for them to have that opportunity to step in and say this is the kind of person who we don’t want packing heat in our community.”

Supporters of the measure say the gun boards have unfairly discriminated against applicants in the past. They also say the State Police will still consult with local officials under the new process.

The panel also approved bills removing air guns from the definition of “firearms” in many Michigan laws.

The bills now go to the floor of the state House.

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