Gun Rights Groups Sue Over Detroit Concealed Carry Delays

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If you live in Detroit, good luck getting a concealed carry license these days. The Wayne County Clerk is responsible for processing concealed carry applications, but the office has been taking its sweet time since the first COVID shutdowns more than a year ago.

Some residents, fed up with a year-long wait (or more) to receive their license, are now suing County Clerk Cathy Garrett over the unconscionable delays, which have left many would-be carry holders with few options. They can openly carry, they can break the law by carrying concealed without a license, or they can go unarmed with violent crimes occurring on a daily basis.

“We want the court to order the clerk to do her job,” said Terry Johnson, a Detroit-based attorney for Michigan Open Carry, Inc., one of the groups bringing the suit. “The clerk hasn’t stopped doing the functions required by her job, except for the processing of CPLs.”

The lawsuit claims Garrett’s office stopped processing licenses and renewals on Feb. 21 and that her office previously took about 14 months to process applications while other Michigan counties take about two months.

“To the best of the plaintiffs’ knowledge and belief, no other county clerk in the state of Michigan is denying or delaying the acceptance of application, the refusal of administration of oath to their county residents who apply for a CPL, nor renewal of their county residents CPL permits,” according to the suit.

Wayne County does appear to be an outlier in Michigan. If you live in the Detroit suburbs of Macomb County, for instance, you should be able to get your license approved in a month or so. If you have to rely on the Wayne County Clerk, it’s taking 12 times as long. It also seems like things have ground to a complete halt over the past few weeks.

While the clerk’s office declined to comment on the lawsuit, a lack of staffing at the CPL call center was discussed by a Wayne County Commission committee last week.

The Wayne County clerk’s website on Tuesday indicated its scheduling system for concealed pistol licenses is down and encourages applicants to “check back in the coming weeks.”

Weeks. Not days. Not hours. Weeks.

A right delayed is a right denied, and at the moment thousands of Detroit residents are being denied their right to carry. Is it bureaucratic ineptitude or is there something more nefarious at work here? My guess is that it’s a combination of both. The staffing problems in Wayne County may be real, but I also suspect that fixing the problem isn’t a top priority for the county clerk and commissioners. After all, they’ve had more than a year to come up with a fix but have failed to do anything to address the growing backlog.

Commissioner Terry Marecki, the lone Republican on the Wayne County Commission, told the Detroit News that the county is slowly improving the wait times, noting that one of her constituents was originally given an appointment date in January of 2022, but was recently told their appointment was now scheduled for June of this year. That’s better, but it’s still not good enough. Let’s hope the courts can do what the county has so far been unable or unwilling to; ensure that the Second Amendment rights of residents aren’t stuck in a legal limbo.


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