Local Concealed Weapons Permits Increasing

Washtenaw County could set record for applications in 2010

Washtenaw County is on pace to set another new record for applications for “concealed-carry” weapons (CCW) permits.

Sign in Washtenaw County administration building

A sign in the Washtenaw County administration building directs residents who want to apply for a concealed weapons license.

Whether more adults legally able to carry guns enhances or erodes public safety is a matter of debate. What’s not in doubt is that more community members want the option: A member of about 1 in every 20 households in the county now holds a permit.

The number climbed in late 2008 and 2009 as people across the U.S. acted on concerns that Democratic leadership in Washington might promote restrictions on firearms, according to law enforcement officials.

The upward trend has continued in Washtenaw County, fueled – according to gun-rights sympathizers – by continuing worry about potential legislative restrictions, along with concerns about crime and shrinking public-safety budgets.

So far this year, 1,019 county residents have applied for permits. If that rate continues, the county would see a more than 20% increase over 2009’s record-setting 2,255 applications.

“It’s amazing,” says retired Washtenaw County sheriff’s deputy Ernie Milligan, who chairs the county’s concealed weapons licensing board, which held its monthly meeting this week. “In the past year or so, I’ve started to see roadside signs advertising CCW classes. That may help fuel it, but there’s a fear factor, too.”

Under legislation that liberalized Michigan’s gun laws in 2001, state residents 21 and older who complete a safety course can apply for a permit to carry concealed weapons. Criminal convictions and mental-health problems can disqualify applicants. But unlike the “may-issue” law it replaced, the 2001 “shall-issue” law leaves local gun licensing boards with little room for subjectivity. For the most part, an application yields a permit.

In 2010, 983 permits have been issued so far in Washtenaw County. Seven applications were denied.

CCW Applications: Putting the Trends in Context

Looking at the data requires some sense of history.

When the law was changed in 2001, there was a wave of new applications. The numbers then fell off until the three-year permits first issued under the “shall-issue” law started expiring. Renewals pushed applications up in 2004.

In the meantime, rules were changed so that permits would be valid for five years. That contributed to higher numbers in 2009. And it makes the increased activity this year – an off year for renewals – all the more striking.

Indeed, more county residents applied for CCW permits in the first three months of 2010 than did in all of 2006 or 2007.

The average number of applications per month so far this year – 230 – dwarfs the monthly averages for most of the past five years (54 in 2006; 45 in 2007; 98 in 2008; and 188 in 2009, a year when many permit holders were renewing.)

In 2004, that first renewal year, the average was 85 per month – a total of 1,025 for the year. [.pdf file of Washtenaw County CCW applications, by month, from 2004 through April 2010.]

About 15% of the permit holders in Washtenaw County are women, Milligan says. The greatest concentrations of permit holders are in rural parts of the county.

With a population about 4,967 and 437 permits, for example, nearly 9% of the residents of Chelsea can carry concealed weapons. Assuming one permit holder per household, that means there’s a CCW permit holder in about 20% of the occupied households (2,093) in Chelsea.

About 23% of the permits countywide are issued to Ann Arbor residents, and 33% to residents of Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township. With their larger populations, that means about 1.6% of Ann Arbor residents and 3.3% of Ypsilanti area residents hold permits. [Those figures are approximate, as data from the county gun licensing board is broken down by mailing addresses, which are imperfect reflections of actual community boundaries. Link to listing of CCW permits by location, as of April 2010.]

“The trend in Ann Arbor is more permit applicants this year,” says Ann Arbor police chief Barnett Jones. “But they’re still not big numbers.” There were 206 applicants from Ann Arbor residents in the first four months of this year, compared to 162 during the same period last year.

“I don’t want to suggest that means Ann Arbor is an easy place to commit crime,” says Jones. But neither does he encourage the idea that armed civilians enhance public safety.

“Over the course of my career, I’ve seen officers with very rigorous training make mistakes,” he says. It’s logical that the risk is greater for a civilian with far less training. “We just saw that play out in Detroit when the victim of a robbery fired at the perpetrator and accidentally killed a woman in her house,” Jones says.

How It Works: The Weapons Licensing Board

Obtaining a license takes one to three months. The process includes 1) filling out a one-page application with a $105 fee, a photograph and proof that you’ve completed a pistol safety training course; 2) getting fingerprinted and a background check by the sheriff’s department, and 3) additional background checks by the state police and FBI.

Members of the Washtenaw County Concealed Weapons Licensing Board

The Washtenaw County concealed weapons licensing board at their May 18 meeting. From left: Ernie Milligan, chair; Jennifer Beauchamp of the county clerk’s office, who serves as the board’s staff support; Sgt. Kurt Schiappacasse of the Washtenaw County sheriff’s department; and Lt. Wynonia Sturdivant, Michigan State Police Ypsilanti Post commander.

The final step is a review by the county’s weapons licensing board. The board meets monthly – since applications have increased, they now meet for two full days, reviewing applications and holding interviews with a small subset of applicants.

The May meetings were held this week on Tuesday and Wednesday in a small conference room near the county clerk’s office, at 200 N. Main St. in Ann Arbor. Chaired by Milligan, the three-person board includes Sgt. Kurt Schiappacasse of the Washtenaw County sheriff’s department and Lt. Wynonia Sturdivant, Michigan State Police Ypsilanti Post commander.

Jennifer Beauchamp, deputy county clerk, takes minutes of the meetings and is the staff person who processes all the applications. Before October 2008, the job took up about 20% of her time – now, it’s closer to 60-65%, she says.

For May’s meeting, the group was reviewing 242 applications and had scheduled 18 interviews over the two days. The meetings are open to the public, but the interviews – during which criminal histories and other personal information might be discussed – are not. Much of the meeting that The Chronicle observed on Tuesday morning consisted of the three board members reading through stacks of blue file folders that contained the applications and other documents, making notes, and calling staff at the sheriff’s department or state police post to get additional information.

Periodically they would compare notes to see if any of them had questions about the applications. Of the first two dozen or so applications reviewed, only two were flagged – one for a missing zip code, and another for what appeared to be an incomplete background check. The others in that batch were approved.

The group has a comfortable rapport, teasing each other and swapping stories as they work. Sturdivant related how she worked security detail for President Obama’s May 1 speech at the University of Michigan commencement – she got a photo taken of herself with Obama. Schiappacasse was there too, also working security, but more on the perimeter – he did, however, get a photo taken standing next to Marine One, the helicopter that brought Obama to Michigan Stadium.

But mostly, their focus was on the applications – with 242 to process, including the 18 interviews, they were settled in for two long days.

The Fear Factor

There’s no objective way of knowing what’s behind the trend of increased applications. Applicants are not required to state their reasons for wanting to carry a concealed weapon. However, those closest to the situation tend to point to the same things.

“People are afraid the president is going to take away their guns,” says Milligan.

Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin repeated that assertion just last week. In the 2008 election campaign, Obama did pledge to 1) revive an assault-weapons ban; 2) press states to release data about guns used in crimes; and 3) close a loophole that allows the sale of firearms at gun shows without background checks. He has yet to take up any of those issues.

“There are a lot of people who want to make a statement about their right to bear arms,” says Milligan. “And the economy has a lot to do with it. People are worried.”

Washtenaw County’s unemployment rate of 9.6% in March 2010 is up significantly from 4.9% in March 2008.

Monroe County resident Frank Purk is a National Rifle Association-certified instructor who teaches firearms-training classes in Washtenaw County. He says his students range from 21-year-olds to “great grandmas and grandpas.” All, he says, are people who want to be able to protect themselves.

Increases in the number of applications for weapons permits are a “function of the inability of government to provide the protection we need,” says Purk. High unemployment can lead to crime, he says. “People want firearms for self protection.”

Like Milligan, Michigan NRA representative Alan Herman sees many people getting permits on principle. “They’re just exercising their right and have no intention of carrying.”

“Others go through training and think it’s real exciting, but then they find out it’s a pain in the butt because you can’t go into different places,” says Herman.

Concealed-carry permit holders are barred from taking firearms into schools and child-care facilities, sports arenas and stadiums, taverns, hospitals, casinos and large entertainment facilities, college dorms and classrooms, and religious facilities – except when allowed by the presiding official.

In addition, property owners and operators can set their own policies and some do prohibit weapons.

“If you’re going somewhere where carrying could be problem, you have to think twice,” says Herman, a Bay City resident who’s taught firearms-safety classes and served on his local gun licensing board. “Most people can’t carry every day.”

“I think the big reason that the number of permit applications is still escalating is concern about safety, because of things like police layoffs,” he says.

Public Safety Concerns: Perception, Reality

It’s certainly true that financial pressure on all levels of government has affected law enforcement.

Data collected by the FBI shows sworn officers in the Michigan State Police down about 12% statewide from 2000 to 2008.

The contraction in the Ann Arbor police department during the same period was 20%, and more positions have been eliminated since then. The city of Ypsilanti and county sheriff’s department have reduced their head counts by 15% and 5% respectively.

Crime statistics are more mixed.

Data reported to the FBI by the Washtenaw County sheriff’s department, and Ann Arbor and Ypsllanti police departments in 2000, 2005 and 2008 (the most recent year available) does show spikes in some kinds of crimes. For example, the number of aggravated assaults, robberies and burglaries reported by the sheriff’s department all increased from 2005 to 2008.

On the other hand, there were more reports of violent crime, robberies, property crimes and burglaries in Ann Arbor in 2005 than in 2008. And the city saw more robberies, burglaries and larcenies in 2000 than in 2008.

In some cases, perceptions don’t align with data, says county Sheriff Jerry Clayton.

For example, in Ypsilanti Township, home invasions have gone down, says Clayton. “But because of what they hear in the media, most people in that community still feel more threatened when they should feel safer.”

In other cases, the overall incidence of a crime may not change, but the locations may. That, too, can shape perception in ways that may not be accurate, says Clayton.

County prosecutor Brian Mackie says there have been some upticks in crime. Nevertheless, he’s skeptical about a correlation between crime rates and demand for CCW permits.

“When we had discretion (under the “may-issue” law) and could ask why people wanted permits, a solid majority talked about going to or near Detroit,” he says.

Still, it does appear that more women and families are applying for permits, says Mackie, who declined to serve on the county weapons licensing board after the shall-issue law was enacted. Milligan was appointed by the county board of commissioners in 2001 to fill the seat usually held by the prosecutor’s office.

The demographic data that could create a profile of typical permit holders is confidential, as are the identities of permit holders. A Michigan State Police spokeswoman said that the agency is not allowed to release information beyond what appears on its website. The local data in this report has been provided to The Chronicle by local officials.

Do Concealed Weapons Make Us Safer?

The shall-issue law was enacted over the objections of statewide police chiefs, sheriffs and prosecutors associations. And while CCW champions make the case that the ability to carry concealed weapons improves safety, others see prohibitions on firearms as a security measure.

At Briarwood Mall, for instance, the Simon Property Group has a code of conduct for patrons that precludes them from carrying firearms and knives. That code is posted at most if not all entrances and at the mall office, says Simon spokesman Les Morris. “We overtly prohibit guns. We’re cognizant of safety and have really enhanced security from a technological standpoint. We take it very seriously and that begins with that code of conduct.”

For Sheriff Clayton, the increasing number of civilians potentially carrying firearms is cause for some concern.

“It causes concern with our own staff and we train continuously,” he says.

“We train, not just in how to use firearms and accuracy, but on how to manage a situation so that we never have to engage,” he says. “In law enforcement, we own every round we fire. We emphasize decision-making around the use of a firearm – who’s behind an aggressor … The unintended consequences should always be on people’s minds.”

Milligan, of the county gun licensing board, offers additional perspective: “Even if you have good training, these are perishable skills. You have to practice. It worries me a little that, to renew a permit, you don’t need any proof that you continue to practice. You just sign a statement. … You have to maintain a pistol. There’s a lot to it.”

But the NRA’s Herman sees armed citizens as a crime deterrent.

“The increasing numbers work in our favor,” he says. “They change the perception for bad guys.”

Chronicle publisher Mary Morgan contributed to this report. About the writer: Judy McGovern lives in Ann Arbor. She has worked as a journalist here, in Ohio, New York and several other states.


  1. By Dave
    May 19, 2010 at 10:47 am | permalink

    I have a CPL. Since I’ve gotten it, I no longer feel afraid to frequent places I love like Belle Isle or even very rural parts of Michigan. Psychos are everywhere, and not just in cities. Having a firearm puts you in an advantageous state–there is no doubt about that. Crime statistics have not shown a correlating rise with CPL permits issued. Violent crime is at the lowest it has been in 40 years.

    Several years ago I defended my life against a home invasion with a shotgun. There is no question that criminals have very little regard for life and cops can only clean up the mess.

    Remember that you must have a very clean record to get a CPL.

    With that said, I beleive that there should be more training involved with getting a CPL. The qualifications (i.e. marksmanship) should be more stringent. I don’t believe any yahoo with a cheap pistol should be able to take a weekend class and get a CPL. They need to be able to hit what they are aiming at. They need a quality firearm. They need years of experience with firearms, or be able to demonstrate this knowledge.

    My two cents. Thanks

  2. By Ricebrnr
    May 19, 2010 at 10:49 am | permalink

    While I applaud the authors for tackling this subject matter, I can’t help but see the anti-gun sentiment pop out every so often in an otherwise fairly neutral article.

    I would make 3 suggestions:

    1) In Michigan a CCW is a criminal charge. A CPL (Concealed Pistol License) is what one applies for.

    2)One other major reason for getting a CPL in Michigan is to bypass the relatively onerous task of getting a Pistol Purchase Permit from your local Police or Sheriff’s office prior to being able to buy one. The state law mandates that permitting hours should be the same as regular business hours at a station. While in the past I have not had too much trouble in Ann Arbor, hours have been reduced here, other localities blatantly flaunt it. They make the permitting hours inconvenient and/or rare as well as throw up other obstacles. This makes the costs of a CPL well worth it for some.

    3) Please review [link] for more information regarding some of the misconceptions in your article.

    I must remind everyone that considering the number of CPL holders and the continuous reminders and fear of same, how many CPL holders have their licenses revoked? How many get in trouble with the law? On the whole (not just in MI) but Concealed Carry Licensees nationwide commit crimes at less than 1 percent of the rate of “regular” people and even law enforcement. There is no blood running in the gutters is there? Shouldn’t the question then be “Do concealed weapons endanger us more?”

    Also “highly” trained officers are also shooting with dire consequences. The recent Detroit shooting of a 7 year old by a highly trained SRT unit for example. This “concern” or argument always comes up against citizens, but there is no converse argument to disarm our law enforcement is there?

    Finally, while firearms can be dangerous so too can words. This is why in any coup the governments always take over radio, tv, newspapers and shut down the internet first. Repressive regimes allow only state controlled media. Should the authors also be forced to apply for a license to write and have subsequent tests to be recertified every five years? Your First Amendment guaranteed Rights are no less important than those guaranteed (NOT GRANTED) by those in the Second but in fact are mutually supportive.

  3. By Anon-U-Are
    May 19, 2010 at 10:49 am | permalink

    Excellent story. Thanks for this.

  4. By Bob Martel
    May 19, 2010 at 10:57 am | permalink

    I’ve never felt unsafe in our community and I do not own a weapon. I plan to continue to feel safe while “naked.” The day I feel unsafe around here is the day that I will pack up and leave.

    I hope that some misguided or under-trained holder of a CCW permit never makes a fatal mistake that he/she would have to live with for the rest of their life. That risk alone is the best reason to leave the gun at home.

  5. By Tom Whitaker
    May 19, 2010 at 11:55 am | permalink


    Editor’s note: This link goes to a Detroit News article about the shooting incident mentioned by Ann Arbor police chief Barnett Jones.

  6. May 19, 2010 at 1:12 pm | permalink

    are renewals included in the increase? i live in washtenaw county and recently RENEWED my cpl.
    it was not a NEW application.

  7. By Mary Morgan
    May 19, 2010 at 1:16 pm | permalink

    As the article states, renewals are included in the total number of applications. From the article:

    When the law was changed in 2001, there was a wave of new applications. The numbers then fell off until the three-year permits first issued under the “shall-issue” law started expiring. Renewals pushed applications up in 2004.

    In the meantime, rules were changed so that permits would be valid for five years. That contributed to higher numbers in 2009. And it makes the increased activity this year – an off year for renewals – all the more striking.

  8. By Dave
    May 19, 2010 at 3:51 pm | permalink

    I would be interested in knowing exactly how much training our local police officers receive a year. How many thousand rounds are they required to fire? Or is it an 18 round magazine annually to show basic proficieny? Most police officers I have met are not “into” guns. They carry because it is part of their job. Training and maintaining ranges are expensive and most muncipalities are not willing to pay for this. So please, what are the standards for our police officers?

  9. By Walt
    May 19, 2010 at 3:54 pm | permalink

    I live in rural Sharon Twp. in Washtenaw county, we have no sheriff and the State Police will come to take a report after an incident 4 to 24 hours later. In the last 10 years there have been a few incidents of alcohol and or drug fueled locals in their 4 x 4′s or golf carts destroying private property between the hours of 2 AM and 5 AM. This prompted me to own weapons. When I lived in Ypsilanti the police responded immediately and I never felt the need to own a weapon.
    Yes, I’d like to move where the alcoholics, meth heads and disturbed people don’t live. I’ve only seen it in the movies.
    The Bill of Rights declares individual rights, not rights of government.

  10. By jcp2
    May 19, 2010 at 5:11 pm | permalink

    High employment [sic] can lead to crime, he says.

    I think there is a missing prefix (“un-” maybe)?

  11. By Alan Goldsmith
    May 19, 2010 at 6:11 pm | permalink

    “In the last 10 years there have been a few incidents of alcohol and or drug fueled locals in their 4 x 4’s or golf carts destroying private property between the hours of 2 AM and 5 AM. This prompted me to own weapons.”

    So you’re prepared to shot drunks driving across your lawn on golf carts? Good lord.

  12. By Walt
    May 19, 2010 at 8:33 pm | permalink

    @ Alan, Who said shoot them in the yard? How do you know what is in a drunken or stoned persons mind? If one of them comes in the house they will get shot. The police are miles away. There have been burglars out here that have been apprehended by homeowners. Maybe if they trash your place you’d feel different.

  13. By Bob Martel
    May 19, 2010 at 9:08 pm | permalink

    There is a big big difference between having a weapon at home for legitimate home defense and carrying one around a heavily populated downtown, “just because.” Especially if the individual is not properly trained.

  14. By Ricebrnr
    May 19, 2010 at 10:03 pm | permalink

    Wish I was clairvoyant too. That way I’d never need to worry be it downtown or at home.

  15. May 19, 2010 at 11:24 pm | permalink


    With talks of laying of police officers in A2, and a Michigan economy that’s not looking healthy… the right of one to feel protected in any area, especially Ann Arbor, shouldn’t be infringed. I’m not sure what “properly trained” would imply, other than the required completion of the pistol safety training course for the state. The 8 hours may seem short, but considering it’s about 6 hours longer than a Boy Scout merit badge requires it’s pretty lengthy. Although police recruits sometimes have a full 16 hours of classroom hours, it covers a lot of legal case law, use of force spectrum, and government liability that’s not applicable to an armed citizen who may only use the gun to defend life.

  16. By Stoopid Hick
    May 20, 2010 at 9:46 am | permalink

    Walt’s first comment about the threat to property posed by yahoos driving 4x4s (and golf carts?!) reminded me of a story reported in the Houston Chronicle last year. An excerpt:

    “Meanwhile, Sheila Muhs — whose home is fronted by a sign warning: ‘Trespassers will be shot. Survivers will be reshot!! Smile I will’ — had called 911. Bishop said the woman told a dispatcher: ‘They’re running over our levee in big-wheel vehicles, and I shot them.’ Officials have not released the 911 tape.”

    According to the article, Shiela Muhs and her husband took turns firing a shotgun at vehicles they (mistakenly) believed were on their property, killing a 7-year old boy, and wounding his father and sister.

    I hope the golf-cart driving yahoos of rural Washtenaw County read this. Maybe it will deter them.

    Google “Survivers will be reshot” [sic] for links to the full story.

  17. By Ricebrnr
    May 20, 2010 at 10:14 am | permalink

    @Alan Goldsmith & Stoopid Hick

    Walt’s commentary was I believe directed at the article’s assertions that we should look to law enforcement for protection and Bob Martel’s comment regarding feeling safe in your area.

    Walt does not need a CPL to carry or own ANY firearm be it a pistol or rifle (which he did not specify)on his own property. So defennse or oneself on one’s own property is not germaine to the topic of this article.

    Also Stoopid Hick’s reference while trajic is not germaine to this article either for the same reasons as previously mentioned AND the fact that the event referenced was at 9pm not between 2am and 5am and no property was destroyed as in Walt’s scenario.

  18. By Walt
    May 20, 2010 at 10:14 am | permalink

    Read Rich Kinsey article on AA.com
    “Heroin addicts suspected in western Washtenaw County burglaries”, the article seems speculative, but you get the idea that if you want to sit in your house unarmed and and untrained to defend yourself its your choice.
    To get a permit you have to attend the CPL class, it is advocated to use the weapon as a last resort and to look for methods of retreating first, practice is encouraged, an overview of the laws involved are presented, and more.
    There is no shortage of finding articles about stupid people with guns, knives, cars, arson, etc.

  19. May 20, 2010 at 1:12 pm | permalink

    I find it odd that somebody would get a CPL if they are concerned that the government is going to take their guns. By getting a CPL, you’re putting yourself on a list of people that definitely have guns. If I were in the business of confiscating guns, I’d start with the CPL holders…

  20. By Alan Goldsmith
    May 20, 2010 at 2:29 pm | permalink

    Since I pay twice for my police protection, once for Ann Arbor and a second time for the Washtenaw County (which I don’t get to use as a city resident) I think the issue for anyone who moved to a rural township to escape urban life and urban taxes should think perhaps of voting in a local police millage if they are worried about drunks on golf carts and a lack of law enforcement respond times.

  21. By Ricebrnr
    May 20, 2010 at 2:44 pm | permalink

    No matter how good response times are, they are still not likely to arrive until AFTER the crisis is over.

    If you are fighting for your or a loved one’s life, remember when seconds count the Police are only minutes away.

    No thanks. If necessary I choose to start defending me and mine IMMEDIATELY and explain what happenned so the police can take their report later.

  22. By Judy McGovern
    May 20, 2010 at 3:00 pm | permalink

    Hi folks.
    re: CCW and CPL. Public agencies use both abbreviations, though they probably refer more frequently to CCW. For example, the Michigan State Police talk about CCW applicants, CCW licenses, the CCW law and, yes, concealed-pistol licenses. Instructional programs also refer to CCW and CPL classes.

  23. May 20, 2010 at 5:47 pm | permalink


    I couldn’t even get Ann Arbor Police to respond to a crash with an uncooperative driver. I have no idea how multiple agencies helped my family. But very glad it wasn’t a combative situation. But if it was, I have no reason to believe the police would either show up or show up in time to protect life.

    If you don’t feel comfortable with a weapon, please don’t carry one. But, if someone has the knowledge and desire, let’s be thankful that there’s an avenue for the law abiding citizen to legally carry a defensive weapon.

  24. By gary
    May 20, 2010 at 10:12 pm | permalink

    When I carry my pistol (I’m permitted) I notice I have less tendency to get angry when I’m cut off on the highway, and less likely to escalate an altercation in any situation. I use to flip the bird. Now I just nod or smile and go my way. Amazing how proving your ‘manhood’ becomes much less important when you know that an out-of-control confrontation can quickly turn lethal and change your life forever. It’s similar to the karate expert with a black belt. He or she is last person to start a fight.

  25. By Jack N
    May 22, 2010 at 4:50 am | permalink

    A correction to the article:
    1. Cost of CPL application is $105 as stated. But – unmentioned is that the mandatory firearms safety courses cost from $150 to $250 depending on what individual instructors charge and whether a “loaner gun” is supplied. So that the basic cost is really $255.

    Add to that mandatory cost a gun and ammunition used (typically, 90 rounds are fired by each enrollee).

    Add to this the cost of other necessary equipment like proper holsters for concealment of the pistol.

    Add to all of the above the explicit and implicit calls for “more training” which means more expense – people can’t train for handgun use like they train for a 5K run. I’m very much for keeping oneself trained with guns but the anti-gun hysterics have managed to get all the major chains stores to stop ammunition and firearms sales. One is hard put to get the ammo needed for even one 100-round session per month. There are no public ranges in Washtenaw County and only a couple of indoor ranges (charging ~15 / hour).

    BTW – there IS a requirement for CPL holders to maintain some training in the renewal rules.

    All in all – the requirements for getting and keeping a Concealed Pistol Permit are expensive and involve considerable extra time and effort. It’s outrageous that the gun-ban fringe has made this simple right to defend one’s life so difficult as to be out of reach for some people.

    Finally, I always find the “logic” of law enforcement officials a bit screwy: I fully support our police but these men and women seem to take the attitude that only they can handle guns and crime and they always imply incompetence on the part of the public. As the Sheriff says: even with (in his opinion) “proper training” police “make mistakes” all the time – I’ve witnessed a few myself. This argument is really based on protecting privilege, it’s not reality based and it certainly isn’t changing anything for the better.

    Flawed logic: because the needs of a private citizen to defend themselves are not as extensive as those of a police officer facing armed street gangs, armed robbers and all sorts of violent situations “at any time” on and off duty. And just to be clear: the gun-owning public has been advocating citizen training since the 1870s and great strides have been made, making today’s gun owner far more likely to be qualified than any other time in our history.

    The Michigan Coalition of Responsible Gun Owners has changed this landscape: they are standing up for the public against the insinuations of thoughtless law enforcement officials as well as anti-gun fringe fanatics.

    As for the “why” of increased permit applications: I do agree that there are several factors contributing and some of them (not all!) are suspect. Over the past 10 years (since turning 55), I’ve been singled out by strangers (younger men in groups) and have been verbally abused and threatened for literally no other reason than that I’m alone and obviously a senior citizen. I’ve seen seniors who are victims of beatings – they often come out with varying levels of permanent physical damage. So yes – having actual experience with threats to one’s life and limb brings a new logic and perspective when thinking about the necessity of carrying a handgun.

    I don’t worry about Sarah Palin’s scare tactics: the Democrats have learned well enough that they will lose elections if they give in to the gun-ban fringe element. Just as the Republicans are learning that they’ll lose elections if they continue promoting such things as religious practices in public schools. The real lesson for our politicians is: if you can’t win without the help of nut jobs, don’t run for office.

  26. By Rod Johnson
    May 22, 2010 at 11:04 am | permalink

    It’s an all too common rhetorical move in current political discourse to describe your enemies as “fringe” “fanatics” “nut jobs.” There are lots of people who are concerned about the widespread use of guns who are not in any sense a “fringe” element of society. No doubt they have a different vision of society than you, but that doesn’t mean they’re crazy or irresponsible, and you don’t get to redefine the political landscape by fiat to exclude your enemies from serious consideration. You lose a lot of credibility when you use that tactic, as well as coming across s something of a jackass.

  27. By Jack N
    May 22, 2010 at 12:23 pm | permalink

    All you say does have some weight – but you make the assumption that, in this case, there’s no proof or record of the craziness of this particular kind of (anti-gun) fringe group. I might have chosen alternative terms such as “extremists” but the meaning is the same.

    “There are lots of people who are concerned…” – Yes, and that includes millions of gun owners, be assured of that. The problem is that the people I refer to are in fact a minority who have discovered the value of making a big noise. There are a number of these fringe anti-gun groups and they all share certain characteristics such as exaggerating their membership and counting “interested individuals” who never apply for membership. They are in fact very “sensitive” about the fact that they are small outfits which do a lot of advertising and lobbying: with the stated agenda of eliminating ownership of firearms in this country.

    They are distinct from national organizations like the National Rifle Association which was chartered by Congress to carry out training programs for civilians. The Michigan Coalition of Responsible Gun Owners is a state-level organization which is dedicated to promoting responsible gun ownership and use, and to working with Lansing to ensure that our gun laws are rational and properly enforced. But the anti-gun groups like to use terms like “gun nuts” so what you say about me applies equally to those groups you seem to want to defend.

    Anyone interested in seeing for themselves can look at this list and investigate them:

    I don’t lose any credibility as you claim: because I can prove that these groups are fringe, fanatics and nut jobs. The anti-gun “movement” is based on hysteria and panic and operates on the assumption that, because they are panicked, everyone should be forced to give up their firearms and their right to defend their lives.

    Your accusation that I’m trying to use fiat to exclude “enemies” fails in face of the fact that it’s always been the late-coming (just since the late 1960s) fanatics who use the scare tactics to alarm the public in order to pressure our legislators into considering confiscatory measures. I, like most rational & informed adults, am able to recognize a fringe group of fanatics when I see one. This includes, by the way, the current batch which seems to be leading the political right these days. These “rightists” are every bit as nutty as the left-leaning anti-gun people and just as dangerous. Extremists have no credibility.

  28. By Jack N
    May 22, 2010 at 12:51 pm | permalink

    @ Bob Martel: In your posts, you clearly base your criticisms on your notion of what “properly trained” means. Have you ever taken certified firearms training of any kind?

    I doubt that you have because those who have taken such training (which is now mandatory in order to get a CPL) know that this training is predicated on enabling responsible, effective use of a handgun for self defense. It’s an all-day course (and there are other training programs to expand and extend that training) in which the first priority is safe use of handguns under well-explained laws. Lets hear from you AFTER you’ve paid the $150 (minimum) fee for training and the $105 for the application.

    It is typical of the “ideologically convinced” to generalize while criticizing specifics one knows little about. You don’t know, for example, that one of the first rules of using a handgun for self defense is “know what’s down range” – meaning that if there’s a danger to other than the attacker, you don’t shoot but use tactics to improve your position to one of safety.

    As for your feeling safe: good for you. This is a matter of both perception AND experience. But to claim your “feeling safe” and your decision to “pack up and leave town” if you feel unsafe is a universal answer everyone should accept is just ridiculous. Millions of drivers “feel safe” and 33,000 of those drivers are killed on the highways every year. Your feeling of safety is irrelevant to your fate.

    What you clearly fear is guns and people who are beyond your control. This is irrational. Ten years of war in Viet Nam: where people were actively trying to kill each other with firearms – produced 58,000 American deaths. During that same period: 550,000 Americans were killed in traffic “accidents.” I’ll bet serious money that you don’t go around saying that this means no one should be allowed to “use a car in public.” And – I’ll bet that you don’t go around declaring that all drivers are “under-trained” either, particularly as applied to yourself. :-)

  29. By Rod Johnson
    May 22, 2010 at 4:42 pm | permalink

    OK, prove it.

  30. By Jack N
    May 22, 2010 at 10:38 pm | permalink

    Your “skeptical challenge” is due either to lack of knowledge about anti-gun groups or it’s a matter of you already being convinced of the rectitude of their purpose and character.

    It’s easy to prove irrationality in light of the history of these anti-gun groups. First – each and every anti-gun group started up in emotional reaction to some gun-related incident. Three assassinations, one attempted assassination and one accidental homicide provided all the “reason” these groups needed to start clamoring for gun confiscations. This despite the fact that these tragedies had nothing to do with the established right of every citizen to defend their lives – with whatever force necessary. There’s the fundamental logical disconnect: to suppose that one’s emotional reactions and uninformed assumptions are a legitimate reason to “cancel” the rights of tens of millions of law abiding citizens is in fact irrational.

    Here on this forum, there are people proclaiming (as if by fiat) that no private citizen is trustworthy or competent enough to “qualify” (in their view) to carry a pistol for self defense. It’s amazing to many that this kind of insult goes by without challenge. It’s amazing that some people think they can “just say” whatever crazy outrageous thing that comes into their emotionally stirred brains and then expect people to accept it as anything but nonsense.

    I have over 40 years of personal experience with anti-gun types which tells me that such people are not only irrational, they “insist” that everyone must agree with their deficient reasoning and abide by it. That’s a legitimate definition of “fanatic” and “nut job.”

    When someone tries the same action over and over and gets the same negative result each time; that also defines such people as fanatics and nut jobs. This demonstrates a fundamental refusal to LEARN in light of facts and proper reasoning.

    As with your insinuations about me: your type always attacks anyone who stands up for their right to defend themselves and tries to make the legitimate claimant the bad guy. Your real desire is to “tame” everyone else so that you can feel more safe. You consistently proclaim that you’re not worried about being victimized and assert that no one else should feel threatened either: even in the face of the fact – which is that thousands of people are attacked, injured or killed every day because (1) the police couldn’t be there and (2) they had no means to stop the attacker(s).

    There is something truly sick about anyone who can ignore this fact.
    So we can add to the descriptives applied to anti-gun type in addition to extremist, fanatic and nut job one more valid term: despicable. :-)

  31. By Rod Johnson
    May 23, 2010 at 12:39 pm | permalink

    It’s neither of those things. You claim “I can prove that these groups are fringe, fanatics and nut jobs” and I’m sincerely interested in your proof. Which, frankly, I found unconvincing. And I made no “insinuations” about you–that would have been subtle, indirect and malicious implications. Instead, I lamented what I see as a general tendency in American politics to stigmatize opponents as undeserving of a real hearing because they’re “fringe.” This kind of Overton Window ploy is becoming all too common. The only claim I made about you was that by engaging in this strategy you were coming off as a jackass, and I stand by that unsubtle, direct and, believe it or not, unmalicious claim.

    The rest of your screed above seems to boil down to the fact that if people are probably driven by emotions, that makes them “nutjobs.” This seems hyperbolic. Many political events, from abolitionism to anti-communism to today’s anti-abortion movements, have had a profoundly emotional basis and have (perhaps unwisely) not depended solely on rational, factual argument. That’s the nature of political life. The fact that you single out the people that are opposed to *your* particular position with such vituperation suggests that you too have an emotional investment that is perhaps not wholly rational. But I wouldn’t characterize you as a nutjob, noble flame warrior. Someone who needs to chill out a bit, maybe (and I can imagine the spirit with which that suggestion will be received).

    While I appreciate your insight into my “real desire” and envy you your telepathic powers, the actual fact of the matter is that I’m pro-gun ownership (though not totally without restrictions). The issue here is not guns, but civility.

  32. By Ricebrnr
    May 23, 2010 at 12:56 pm | permalink

    I offered some proof but since I included links that post seems not to have been approved.

    I submit for extremist and fanatical examples Mayors Daley and Bloomburg.

    Both of whom use power, fiat and money both personal and public to advance their personal anti gun agendas.

    Bloomburg who conducts illegal stings well outside of any jurisdiction he can claim.

    Daley who threatens reporters with guns while denying clear evidence that his gun bans have only empowered criminals. The situation which is so bad that 2 legislators want to call in the National Guard to police the city. Which is also illegal by the way.

    Rod, I’m glad that you are also for gun ownership but as for restrictions just remember that the people who arguably need guns for self protection the most are also least likely to afford those restrictions. How can “shall not be infringed” be reconsciled with that?

  33. By Jack N
    May 23, 2010 at 1:56 pm | permalink

    You appear to be on a track which I would be unable to change regardless: showing us that you are one of the emotion-based true believers which I also characterized as nut jobs, etc. Anyone who abandons their intellect to emotion is automatically (a) vulnerable to ideological seduction and (b) not to be taken seriously. That’s all the proof that can reasonably be required.

    As I wrote in conclusion to my last post: these people who go on serious crusades to “do good” without a bit of intellectual or moral effort are also despicable because they threaten the rest of society (not to mention our political stability).

    I never said that my “issue” is only with anti-gun groups: it happens to be the issue related to most comments here and the article itself. I am uniformly against ideological fools – those who let themselves be seduced into “joining sides” against some imagined threat. This applies equally to both political parties and to conservatism, liberalism and, yes, libertarianism. My direct experience with people in all of these camps made it clear to me that these are closed minds taking a long vacation from critical thought. So you make another error by falsely categorizing me – as anyone could predict.

    That you so eagerly defend these misguided people (and trouble makers) is proof enough for anyone of which kind of person you are. Funny that you, the one without facts and with pretend “principles” should be criticizing me. This confirms my original point: anyone who stands up for their rights in the face of ANY ideological movement which threatens those rights is immediately attacked. Your argument is that: because wrong has been done before it is just dandy to keep doing it that way. Well – guess what – disrupting and over-riding people’s rights and lives because you’re emotionally overwhelmed is one kind of wrong that won’t be permitted to continue. You can use propaganda and false accusations all you want but that doesn’t mean that American citizens have to be impressed or bow to your emotional-need crusades.

    You – typical for your kind – “assert” that I come off looking like a jackass. As if your morally and intellectually vacant “opinion” was to be considered worthwhile. Get over yourself. Stop attacking those whose only “error” is to expect a little intellectual rigor in adults. I stood up against the on-going attempt to stampede the public into panicking over guns: I’m still standing.

    Whether Rod likes it or not: we all have the right to despise those proven to be despicable by their actions. It’s called good judgement. The anti-gun people, the anti-environment people, the anti-war people, the anti-Obama people: all such groups are nothing but collections of crackpots with a “common cause.” It would be funny – but they’re taken seriously (and opportunistically by the press). In politics as in consumer products: brand loyalty is for suckers (and the too-trusting intellectual slacker).

  34. By Rod Johnson
    May 23, 2010 at 5:29 pm | permalink

    Aw, I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings. I’m not sure what track you think I’m on (or what my “kind” is), or how you think I characterized you. I haven’t differed with you on any substantive policy issue, and I support your desire to have rational policy discussions. I just think that you are too quick to deny your opponents’ arguments legitimacy by calling them “fringe.” As long as we’re making distinctions, there’s a big difference between wrong or even wrong-headed and “nutjob.” I have tons of people whose positions I despise, but when I’m done despising them, they’re still there, legitimately participating in society, so what does your name-calling accomplish except to poison the conversation?

  35. By Rod Johnson
    May 23, 2010 at 5:32 pm | permalink

    Ricebrnr (how do you capitalize that?), I’m not sure I followed the question in your last paragraph, sorry.

  36. May 23, 2010 at 10:46 pm | permalink

    I have a CPL and I am an NRA certified pistol instructor and range safety officer. I am also a firearms salesman. I know a good deal about firearms and shooters in general. My experience is that some of the nicest, law-abiding people are ‘gun people’. I encourage everyone to get involved in the shooting sports. It’s fun and it has the practical application of perhaps keeping you and your loved ones safe. I read recently a comment that goes something like this – I carry a gun because there are people in this world who are not as nice as you. If you do not want to exercise your 2nd Amendment right, that’s OK with me. But I do know that it is not right to deny others their right. When some criminal rushes into a restaurant (or store, church, school etc) and you are cowering under a table waiting for your turn to be executed, I just may be able to drop the bad guy and stop the killing and save your life. At that point you will undoubtedly have a change of heart regarding the lawful carry of concealed firearms. I tell people who come in to buy a firearm from me that getting a CPL is like getting your driver license. Just because you have a driver license does not mean you can race with the big boys on Sunday. Getting a CPL is very much the same. The good news is that there are plenty of opportunities to become proficient with your firearm. And I encourage everyone to participate in the shooting sprots. Just visit a range or gun club. You’ll have a blast!

  37. By Stoopid Hick
    May 24, 2010 at 2:30 pm | permalink

    “When some criminal rushes into a restaurant (or store, church, school etc) and you are cowering under a table waiting for your turn to be executed, I just may be able to drop the bad guy and stop the killing and save your life.”

    Thanks, I appreciate it. Please just make sure someone’s life is at risk before you start shooting. Unlike the “highly-trained” CPL holder who killed an innocent bystander, Geraldine Jackson, in Detroit a couple weeks ago, while shooting at a fleeing mugger after the danger had already passed.

  38. By Ricebrnr
    May 24, 2010 at 2:52 pm | permalink

    While I agree that the CPL holder in that incident made poor choices, by highly trained do you mean like the Detroit SRT member who killed the 7 year old girl?

  39. By Stoopid Hick
    May 24, 2010 at 8:54 pm | permalink

    I’m happy you agree the CPL holder made a bad decision. Would you have felt the same way if he had killed the mugger instead of the bystander?

    I hope that even a poorly-trained cop would know better than to fire at a fleeing thief.

  40. By Ricebrnr
    May 25, 2010 at 10:33 am | permalink

    As taught in every CPL class: a person has the right to defend themselve if they reasonably fear for their life, great bodily harm or sexual assualt/rape.

    A law abiding potential victim can shoot to stop the threat if those conditions are met. If a mugger dies from the actions he/she/it initiated then that’s too bad.

    “Would you have felt the same way if he had killed the mugger instead of the bystander? ”

    This was a bad shoot even if no innocent bystanders were shot, the mugging was effectively over and the grand theft auto was in process. In either case the immediate and deadly threat to the CPL holder was over since the mugger was affecting his escape AWAY from the victim. At this point the victim was shooting to either protect property (the vehicle) or in retribution of the crime. Neither are allowed under the Self Defense Act and if you were to follow us ‘gunnies’ the forums are full of us denouncing his actions.

    As for training, I highly recommend it but making it mandatory as you seem to indicate, would be an infringement, especially for the poor who are least likely to afford it and most likely to need firearms for self defense.

  41. By merkava
    May 27, 2010 at 3:20 am | permalink

    I was a CPL renewal this year. Other people were renewing both when I dropped off my paperwork and when picking up my new CPL.

    Speaking for myself and all of my friends who are all CPL holders, we train far in excess of the minimum requirements, most of us are ex-military we seek out training from instructors with special operations backgrounds who are well known in the industry world-wide.

    At one 3-Gun competition last year, I had the pleasure of shooting with a FBI agent who’s on a tactical team with the Detroit field office. He was pretty adamant about personal firearm rights as well. Our sheriff doesn’t speak for all law enforcement in the area. He’s a politician, so making a big deal out of inflated statistics is to be expected ;)

  42. By merkava
    May 27, 2010 at 3:22 am | permalink


    Speaking for myself and all of my friends who are CPL holders.

    (one too many “all”s in that sentence)

  43. By Ricebrnr
    May 27, 2010 at 4:14 pm | permalink

    Interesting article regarding that extrea special training that makes Law Enforcement that much more worthy of handling firearms than us regular peons. [link]

    As Merkava stated; “we train far in excess of the minimum requirements”

    Many of us gunnies, shoot more rounds more often that many in law enforcement per year and that’s on our own dime vs department guns, ranges and ammo.

    Guns and gun ownership is at an all time high but there is still no blood running in the streets at least by law abiding citizens. If you want to see blood in the streets go to Chicago where handguns are banned (for now).

  44. By Robert Bethune
    May 31, 2010 at 9:24 am | permalink

    In the course of my volunteer work as a range safety officer at a local gun club, I’ve had the opportunity to observe classes held by local law enforcement agencies for their personnel taught at our range by professional trainers employed by the agencies. Those chances to observe local law enforcement officers handling and firing their service weapons showed me that they are fully compentent shooters who absolutely have the right idea about safety, weapons handling and marksmanship. At the same time, I have had many opportunities to observe local civilians participating in shooting events that involve many of the same skills–drawing from the holster, rapid fire, engaging multiple targets, engaging moving targets, and so forth. It is my distinct impresssion that the level of skill, commitment to safety, and seriousness about the activity is very similar between the two groups. I’d be very comfortable participating in a shooting activity with members of either one. Many, perhaps most, of the civilians who participate in the shooting events I’ve observed are CPL holders. I firmly believe these people are very likely to prove well worthy of the public trust placed in them when their licenses were issued.