In the three months following the enactment of a new state concealed weapons law, Washtenaw County officials said they have seen a surge in concealed weapon applications.
Washtenaw County Clerk Peggy M. Haines said about 650 applications have been filed with the Concealed Weapons Licensing Board since the law took effect July 1. Of those, she said that 276 licenses have been issued and 366 are pending approval by the board. In the six months before the law took effect, only 149 permits were granted.
Last week, the Michigan State Police reported that there have been 24 denials throughout the state. One-third of those have been in Washtenaw County, said County Election Administrator Melanie Weidmayer.
“That shows me that the prosecutor and clerk are all doing a thorough job,” Weidmayer said.
She added that receiving four times the annual number of applications has placed an extra burden on the county clerks office, requiring 320 overtime hours and more than $2,000 in costs.
“I”ve been helping out because of the impact on our office,” Weidmayer said.
State law dictates that all applicants must take an eight-hour course in pistol safety and be free of felony convictions, personal protection orders, diagnosed mental illness and misdemeanors in the last three years. More serious misdemeanors could not have been committed in the last eight years.
But even with a license, concealed weapons are prohibited from college dormitories, classrooms and stadiums. In addition, the law prohibits concealed weapons in bars, lounges, casinos and hospitals.
“I think that it”s just asking for trouble if they get rowdy, especially if there”s alcohol involved,” said LSA sophomore Laura Been. “It seems fair, but sometimes a person could pass all the standards and not be someone who should have a gun,” she said.
But LSA sophomore Adrianne Wagner was less skeptical of a threat.
“People who are going to commit crimes are not the ones that will apply,” Wagner said. “It”s not the government”s business to monitor what you do in your spare time.”
Several groups have lobbied to repeal the law, including People Who Care About Kids, which hoped to offer voters a referendum vote in November. While confident it could gather the 250,000 signatures required to put the issue on the ballot, the group abandoned its effort because it felt raising the necessary funds for an effective campaign in the wake of relief efforts for victims of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington would be difficult.