Michigan County Might Pay for Employees' Concealed Carry Licenses

In a bid to bolster the safety of county employees, Ottawa County, Michigan administrator John Gibbs is proposing that the county pick up the cost of training and application fees for any worker who wants to obtain their Concealed Pistol License. It’s apparently the first time an idea like this has been floated in Michigan, and while the county’s board of commissioners is overwhelmingly comprised of conservatives, there’s no guarantee that Gibbs plan will come to fruition; not because of anti-gun sentiment, but because of concerns over government overreach.

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Gibbs estimated the annual cost to county taxpayers of paying for CPL training, registration and renewal at $2,000 annually. The cost of training courses, which are required for a CPL license, are at least $100. Application fees are $100, and a renewal license, good for five years, is $115.

Tom Lambert, of Michigan Open Carry, a gun rights advocacy group, was unfamiliar with any counties that have considered paying for CPLs.

“The gun community would probably see this as a good thing, to be armed and trained,” Lambert said. “Whether it is a good use of government money, I’m not going to weigh in on.”

Commission Chairperson Joe Moss did not return requests for comment on the proposal. Commissioner Roger Bergman, one of 10 Republicans on the 11-person board, told Bridge he isn’t a fan of the proposal.

“I don’t know we should be paying for employees to get their own firearm licenses,” Bergman said. “Why would we do that?”

The proposal will be discussed at a planning and policy committee meeting of the commissioners Tuesday. “I expect it will be a long meeting,” Bergman said.

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Honestly, I’d have those same concerns if supervisors in my own rural county floated the same idea. I’m not opposed in the slightest to employees carrying on the job for their personal safety, but singling out government workers for subsidized carry licenses kind of rubs me the wrong way. After all, there are likely plenty of other folks in Ottawa County who might find the expense of obtaining a carry license a hardship but won’t be eligible for the program that Gibbs wants to put in place.

Instead of picking up the tab for county employees to get their carry license, a better approach might be for the county to put on regularly scheduled training courses for any citizen who wants to participate; either free of charge or for a nominal fee. The applicant would still be on the hook for the initial application fee, but they’d at least get a break on the training component of the application process.

An effort like that would probably end up costing Ottawa County taxpayers more than the $2,000 that Moss says will cover the expense of subsidizing carry licenses for county employees, though it would also have a much bigger impact in the community. I don’t know if there’d be any interest from county commissioners to scale up Gibbs’s idea, however. It sounds like his original plan is already being met with plenty of skepticism, and advocates of limited government might have an even bigger problem with subsidizing the cost of lawful concealed carry for all interested residents.

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