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Township flips rule on employees and handguns



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April 16, 2014 - Groveland Twp.- The township board of trustees voted 5-0 on Monday night to change a line in the employee handbook that prohibited carrying a weapon to work.

The rule was changed after a voter walked into an election poll carrying an exposed handgun in 2013.

"He had an open carry permit," said Pam Mazich, township clerk, a handgun owner. "But the election workers and other township workers are not allowed to carry a weapon. It's not right that residents or others can walk into a township building with a weapon and we can't."

In Michigan, it is legal for a person to carry a firearm in public as long as the person is carrying the firearm with lawful intent and the firearm is not concealed. However, a person with a concealed pistol license is still prohibited from carrying a concealed weapon into certain places, including schools, bars, churches and sports stadiums.

In addition, the ownership of concealed weapons is private information.

In 1999, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that state police could refuse a Freedom of Information Act request for the names and addresses of handgun permit holders, because disclosure would amount to a "clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy." In 2006, then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed in to law House Bill 5217, to make ownership of handguns a private matter. Furthermore, concealed pistol license records are a matter of confidentiality. Those records are not subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.

However, Mackinac Center Legislative Analyst Jack McHugh said there are still loopholes in the law. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a non-partisan research and educational institute for Michigan residents that addresses state and local policy questions.

"Concealed weapon licenses are a private matter right now in Michigan by statute. However, right now handgun sales records and pistol sales permits are protected only by case law," added McHugh. "Senate Bill 49 was introduced about a year ago that would amend the law and keep that information private; however, it stalled in the House."

A new set of House Bills— 5324, 5325, 5326 and 5327, all passed on March 13 to "clean up" any privacy issues with regard to handgun ownership.

"State lawmakers are now moving to close any potential loopholes," added McHugh.

The House voted 81-28 to exempt all gun ownership records from state FOIA requests. The bill allows for access by law enforcement under some circumstances. The measure now heads to the Senate, where it was referred to the Judiciary Committee

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