MI court spanks gun board that denied ccw


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Mixlesplick
September 23, 2005, 09:45 AM
Ruling limits role of gun boards
Thursday, September 22, 2005
By John Tunison
The Grand Rapids Press

To the Ottawa County Gun Board, Joe Heindlmeyer was a time bomb they worried might explode.

As a 20-year-old in 1989, the Holland resident threatened to blow himself up with a homemade pipe bomb in a desperate act doctors attributed to clinical depression.

Those mental-health issues, which never reappeared, made him a risk for having a concealed handgun, the gun board told him three years ago in denying a concealed weapons permit.





Heindlmeyer, a longtime Allegan County reserve deputy who carries a service pistol while in uniform, fought back and insisted he posed no threat to anyone.

On Wednesday, the state Court of Appeals agreed with him and issued a ruling that further limits the discretion of gun boards statewide to decide who gets concealed weapons.

The court upheld an Ottawa County Circuit judge's 2004 decision that forced the gun board to give Heindlmeyer a permit.

James Simmons, an advocate for concealed-weapon carriers who represented Heindlmeyer in court, said the decision could have statewide implications.

"I would expect that gun boards would recognize if they want to try to deny someone a concealed weapon, they need to have their ducks in a row," Simmons said.

A state law passed in 2000 requires county gun boards to issue permits to those 21 and older unless the applicant has felony convictions, certain misdemeanor convictions or a history of mental illness.

At the time, gun-owner advocates hailed it as a step toward ending arbitrary decisions by gun boards that previously could deny permits for various reasons.

Simmons said Wednesday's court ruling further strengthens the position of concealed-weapon carriers who simply want personal security.

"Almost all of the criteria to get concealed-weapons permits now are objective," he said. "That's exactly how the Legislature intended it."

But the lawyer for Ottawa County, Doug VanEssen, described the ruling as a setback for gun boards trying to protect the public.





"You totally handcuff the discretion of the (gun) board members through this ruling," VanEssen said. "It effectively makes the board nothing more than a clerical function."

The Court of Appeals said the gun board failed to prove Heindlmeyer was a risk today.

"Although (Heindlmeyer) owns firearms, the board has presented no evidence to suggest that he has been irresponsible or otherwise unsafe with them," the panel wrote. "Most of the evidence presented indicated just the opposite."

Heindlmeyer, 36, could not be reached for comment.

He received treatment for mental-health problems in 1989 after symptoms of depression. At one point, in apparent disappointment over losing a Naval Academy scholarship and abandoning a dream to enlist in Navy special forces, he threatened to blow himself up with a pipe bomb.

Heindlmeyer, however, was not committed to a psychiatric hospital, and two mental-health professionals testified in 2004 he suffered from no mental illness.

Still, VanEssen, representing the gun board, said five mental- health professionals in 1989 and 1990 diagnosed Heindlmeyer as having a mental illness.

VanEssen argued research showed someone who suffered from any such illness has a chance of relapse if triggered by a traumatic event.

"It does not go away. It can be treated, but it remains there," he said.

The discretion to look objectively at mental-health issues was among the only areas of latitude left for gun boards. VanEssen questioned the need to have the required membership of sheriffs and prosecutors on county gun boards if they were to simply "rubber stamp" permits.

"What is the point of wasting their time?" he asked




The gun boards in Michigan are supposed to "rubber stamp" qualified applications for ccw. That is the whole point of the law. The only reason there are gun boards is to give the appearance that someone can protect the public from all us ccw'ers. It's time for Michigan to get rid of the gun boards. Besides, if the Sec. State takes over the licensing we will get better made licenses. Right now we have laminated paper licenses.

The gun board in my county grilled me for about twenty minutes because of something that didn't even disqualify me. I knew it didn't disqualify me or I wouldn't have wasted my money on the application. I gave short, to the point answers and refused to extrapolate. I didn't want to be refused a ccw and have to fight it in court like this guy did. :cuss:

Oops, here's the link. (http://www.mlive.com/news/grpress/index.ssf?/base/news-1/1127400399166780.xml&coll=6)

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buzz_knox
September 23, 2005, 10:16 AM
"You totally handcuff the discretion of the (gun) board members through this ruling," VanEssen said. "It effectively makes the board nothing more than a clerical function."

And your point is?

El Tejon
September 23, 2005, 10:23 AM
What if Michigan had a Church Board or a Book Board?

RavenVT100
September 23, 2005, 10:43 AM
I don't buy the board's explanation for denying his permit, and I'm sure the same decision would've been rendered had his GF broken up with him and he went in for therapy--which people do all the time.

porterdog
September 23, 2005, 10:52 AM
+1 buzz_knox. It's supposed to be an objective review: "Does the applicant meet these requirements?" Yes=permit, no=no permit. We're supposed to trust some low level beaurocrats who may or may not have thier own agendas? That sounds safe ;)

antsi
September 23, 2005, 10:53 AM
--------quote---------
"You totally handcuff the discretion of the (gun) board members through this ruling," VanEssen said. "It effectively makes the board nothing more than a clerical function."
------------------------

Translation: "Whaaaah! They took away our power to inflict arbitrary unfounded capricious bureaucracy on people according to our prevailing mood and/or whim! Whaaaah!"

GunGoBoom
September 23, 2005, 11:13 AM
Good show. See, the system works (sometimes). Get a lawyer and sue the bastages is the lesson. *Then* if that doesn't work, shoot the bastages.

nextjoe
September 23, 2005, 12:21 PM
Nice to see this ruling. The law has changed since he was denied. Originally, you had to allow the gun board access to your medical records, and ANY history of mental illness disqualified you. Of course, that disqualified a whole lot of people who had gone through counseling after a divorce or death in the family, etc. Currently, you have to swear that you do not have a diagnosed mental illness at the time of application. I also think that the requirement of granting access to your medical records has been dropped.

LaVere
September 23, 2005, 12:31 PM
"You totally handcuff the discretion of the (gun) board members through this ruling," VanEssen said. "It effectively makes the board nothing more than a clerical function."


It is about time. :D


One for the people :)

RavenVT100
September 23, 2005, 12:39 PM
Nice to see this ruling. The law has changed since he was denied. Originally, you had to allow the gun board access to your medical records, and ANY history of mental illness disqualified you. Of course, that disqualified a whole lot of people who had gone through counseling after a divorce or death in the family, etc.

That's ridiculous. Going to counseling after getting a divorce is not indicative of mental illness. Mental illness is legally defined in most states as being seriously beyond anything you'd simply go to counseling for--we're talking drugs, doctor visits, possible hospitalization, et cetera. People go to counseling for all kinds of things, even if it's just to blow off steam because they're not getting along with a family member and wish to make their relationship better.

It just goes to show how ridiculously unqualified an administrative body such as a "gun board" is in interpreting stuff like this. They should not be allowed access to anyone's medical records, and if the state really has to violate people's privacy to such a degree, it should be a fully licensed medical doctor or psychiatrist who does the interpreting--preferably the latter of the two. Do you think the average cop or official even knows how to interpret medical data? The bar should be set at involuntary commitment or ajudication as a mental defective. In both cases, some determination had to be made that a person was a threat to themselves or others or could not manage their own affairs. In the case you stated, it could be anything--including fighting with your wife, or being upset that your kid died.

To me, what you described, in terms of sheer egregiousness, is on par with deciding if a person is "white enough" to receive a gun permit.

Bruce H
September 23, 2005, 02:19 PM
How about a lawyer board made up of non lawyers. :evil:

Andrew Rothman
September 23, 2005, 02:26 PM
Oh, I think threatening to blow yourself up with a pipe bomb is a little more serious than going to counseling because you're sad after a divorce.

I'd think that "threaten[ing] to blow himself up with a homemade pipe bomb in a desperate act doctors attributed to clinical depression" and "five mental- health professionals in 1989 and 1990 diagnosed Heindlmeyer as having a mental illness" would constitute "a history of mental illness," wouldn't you?

The board exists because some human judgement is sometimes necessary. A criminal record is cut and dried, but mental health issues do require judgement.

Did the board err in this particular decision?

Yeah, probably. He had served well as an armed reserve cop -- that mitigates pretty well against a 16-years-ago mental health diagnosis.

But the board needs to exist to look at these things. It's called due process.

The court properly found that the board had reached the wrong conclusion, but that doesn't, I think, neuter the board from making future judgements.

If it makes them a little more circumspect, that's a good thing.

buzz_knox
September 23, 2005, 02:41 PM
How about a lawyer board made up of non lawyers.

Actually, that's not a bad idea. Lawyers tend to protect other lawyers. As long as there is an attorney available to consult with the board to discuss current ethical requirements, standards of care, etc., a group of non-lawyers would actually bring some common sense to the field. And might deter lawyers who think that their fellows will protect them no matter what.

The board exists because some human judgement is sometimes necessary. A criminal record is cut and dried, but mental health issues do require judgement.

Absent evidence he currently poses a threat to himself or others, what is the issue? He's trusted to carry a weapon to protect society, why shouldn't he be trusted to do so to protect himself?

Mixlesplick
September 23, 2005, 03:03 PM
The board exists because some human judgement is sometimes necessary. A criminal record is cut and dried, but mental health issues do require judgement.

That is how we end up with limited issuance of ccws. When it is up to "human judgement" it can often become a case of who knows who. That is why Michigan and other states passed shall issue laws. It gives everyone clear, objective criteria to meet in order to receive a concealed carry license. If we have to rely on human judgement on an individual basis then we are headed back in the wrong direction.

Correct me if I am wrong but Florida's permits are issued by the Dept. of Agriculture and Vermont and Alaska don't require permits to carry concealed. That seems to be working well and the police or prosecutor's office don't have any say in how those permits are issued or who gets to carry.

RavenVT100
September 23, 2005, 03:03 PM
Oh, I think threatening to blow yourself up with a pipe bomb is a little more serious than going to counseling because you're sad after a divorce.

I'd think that "threaten[ing] to blow himself up with a homemade pipe bomb in a desperate act doctors attributed to clinical depression" and "five mental- health professionals in 1989 and 1990 diagnosed Heindlmeyer as having a mental illness" would constitute "a history of mental illness," wouldn't you?

Possibly. We're given entirely too little information from this article. It does say that he was 20 at the time, which makes it a little more serious (I'd have said it was no big deal if he was say, 14--teenagers by their very nature are prone to doing and more importantly saying extremely foolish things). But it doesn't say what the circumstances were, and more importantly no information is given as to the extent of the threat.

Have you ever flippantly remarked that you're so mad that you'd like to kill someone? Purely out of rhetoric, not seriously, i.e. "I'd love to strangle that guy" or "He makes me so mad that I wanna choke him." Maybe this guy made a flippant remark to his therapist along the lines of "Hell, this has me so angry that I think I just wanna blow myself up with a pipe bomb or something. Who knows" while not having any serious intent whatsoever.

Or, he might've staged some kind of standoff wherein he had an actual bomb and threatened to blow himself up. We have no idea.

But given the fact that he is a reserve LEO and that he's trusted to own and carry firearms, I'm going to hazard a guess that it was the former, not the latter situation.

Trebor
September 23, 2005, 04:10 PM
Originally, you had to allow the gun board access to your medical records, and ANY history of mental illness disqualified you.

It depends on the gun board. Some are looking for *any* excuse and others were looking for signs that the person might actually be a danger. I'm not aware of any recent change in the law that limits the authority of gun boards to deny for reasons of mental illness.

I also think that the requirement of granting access to your medical records has been dropped.

No, that's still there, AFAIK.

Trebor
September 23, 2005, 04:11 PM
I know the lawyer in this case. He teaches the legal portion of my CCW classes. If you are in Michigan, and need a pro-gun attorney for something related to firearms rights, call Jim Simmons.

nextjoe
September 23, 2005, 04:47 PM
Trebor,

You're right. I just looked on the official application form, and you do still have to give permission to access your medical records.

The question I have is: how do they know to request records for anyone? Is there some centralized database that they search?

TallPine
September 23, 2005, 05:04 PM
"What is the point of wasting their time?" he asked
I agree - just let everyone carry without a permit like they do in VT, AK, and about 98% of MT ;)

RavenVT100
September 23, 2005, 05:13 PM
Trebor,

You're right. I just looked on the official application form, and you do still have to give permission to access your medical records.

The question I have is: how do they know to request records for anyone? Is there some centralized database that they search?

The NICS system, and the county boards of health in many states, contain information about commitments. If you were adjudicated a mental defective or committed to a mental institution, there would be some record.

nextjoe
September 23, 2005, 05:37 PM
The NICS system, and the county boards of health in many states, contain information about commitments. If you were adjudicated a mental defective or committed to a mental institution, there would be some record.

Right, but assuming a person saw a counselor or shrink without ever being committed or adjudicated, how would the gun board even know whose records to request? There's nothing on the application form about listing your family doc or any other health care providers. Perhaps some kind of statewide database?

DelayedReaction
September 23, 2005, 06:26 PM
As a individual who say therapy for depression, this kind of ruling makes me absolutely jubilant. Proponents of gun control would happily use any kind of specious reason to prevent individuals such as myself from getting a conceal carry permit, and I'm glad examples such as this one have been struck down.

Now if only I didn't live in Maryland. :banghead:

Standing Wolf
September 23, 2005, 08:57 PM
"You totally handcuff the discretion of the (gun) board members through this ruling," VanEssen said. "It effectively makes the board nothing more than a clerical function."

Precisely!

RavenVT100
September 24, 2005, 10:58 AM
Right, but assuming a person saw a counselor or shrink without ever being committed or adjudicated, how would the gun board even know whose records to request? There's nothing on the application form about listing your family doc or any other health care providers. Perhaps some kind of statewide database?

Such a database would be in direct contravention of privacy laws that exist on the federal level and also in numerous states (even more strictly in that case). I'm sure it's Carolyn McCarthy's wet dream--so sad to see a nurse turn her back on the very patients she once cared for just because of her nutcase ideological crusade, but I digress. The only people besides the doctor/hospital who get private health information is an insurance company, and that information may get stored in the MIB, but won't be accessible without a court order.

You're probably wondering how I know this. I work in an insurance-related industry and I see how this stuff works every day, and I've also learned a lot about the healthcare industry.

That's not even mentioning that in many states, if you talk to a doctor it's doctor-patient confidentiality, meaning it can be waived in a limited number of scenarios. When you talk to a therapist in some states, it's therapist-client privilege--i.e. a privileged communication that goes far beyond the doctor-patient confidentiality. It's on the same level as having spoken with an attorney. People talk to therapists and counselors for all kinds of things that do not have anything to do with being "mentally ill," and the privilege exists to protect people from nutballs who think that because you went to counseling you must be crazy.

I still advise people never to get counseling unless they really really need to, because these gun ban ideologists could care less about privacy law and would love to put you in a database along with violent felons. It just isn't worth it.

Hawkmoon
September 24, 2005, 11:10 AM
You're right. I just looked on the official application form, and you do still have to give permission to access your medical records.
Just one more reason to avoid "mental health professionals" of any kind.

Barbara
September 24, 2005, 11:11 AM
Secretary of State issue. The bill is just sitting there, gathering dust. We shouldn't have 83 sets of rules in a state with shall-issue.

RavenVT100
September 24, 2005, 11:59 AM
You're right. I just looked on the official application form, and you do still have to give permission to access your medical records.

Just one more reason to avoid "mental health professionals" of any kind.

Precisely.

Thin Black Line
September 24, 2005, 01:40 PM
If anyone reading this in MI ever gets denied a permit because of routine
counseling (such as marital counseling that can be required by the court
prior to divorce when there are kids involved), please do not hesitate to
contact me privately and I will set you up with the proper people to
have this addressed.

Barbara
September 24, 2005, 02:26 PM
I'd recommend Jim for any gun issue in Michigan. He knows his stuff about Michigan gun laws.

Trebor
September 24, 2005, 06:43 PM
The question I have is: how do they know to request records for anyone? Is there some centralized database that they search?

I have heard of gun boards asking applicants to bring copies of any relevant medical records to the gun board. The applicant can then request the records from their health care provider.

Presumingly, if an applicant refuses to provide the records (if they exist), that could be cause for denial. Or, if the applicant says there are no relevant records and is lying and is granted the permit the gun board could then say, "We asked and he lied."

This is mainly assumption on my part though based on a few things I've heard and my thinking it through a bit. Don't take it as hard and fast fact.

Hawkmoon
September 25, 2005, 12:26 AM
Also, if any of the "services" are paid for by insurance, there's a paper trail there they can follow.

RavenVT100
September 25, 2005, 01:55 AM
Also, if any of the "services" are paid for by insurance, there's a paper trail there they can follow.

Those records are under the protection of exceptionally strict federal law. A bureaucratic agency is not going to just be able to "dig" through that unless they have a court order. At least that's how I understand it.

DelayedReaction
September 25, 2005, 03:14 AM
Just one more reason to avoid "mental health professionals" of any kind.

I'll admit that there's a lot to the field of mental health that seems wonky, but a lot of people truly have been helped as a result of therapy and/or psychiatry. Having been severaly depressed, I know for a fact that if hadn't seen someone I would be dead right now.

Mixlesplick
September 25, 2005, 09:04 AM
I have heard of gun boards asking applicants to bring copies of any relevant medical records to the gun board. The applicant can then request the records from their health care provider.


I took a refresher course (not required) when I renewed my ccw. One of the instructors said that medical records were routinely being denied to gun boards due to privacy laws. I see the gun boards have figured a way around that.

At least on my renewal I didn't have to go in front of the board again. It was just paperwork to get the renewal in my county.

Stevie-Ray
September 25, 2005, 04:49 PM
The discretion to look objectively at mental-health issues was among the only areas of latitude left for gun boards. VanEssen questioned the need to have the required membership of sheriffs and prosecutors on county gun boards if they were to simply "rubber stamp" permits.

"What is the point of wasting their time?" he asked
I totally agree. Lets quit wasting their time. Let SecState handle it from now on. Cheaper and more efficient that way also.

nextjoe
September 25, 2005, 05:46 PM
I went and looked at the state police annual reports re: ccw applications. Interestingly, for the year ending 6/30/04, Wayne County had zero (0) denials for Mental Health Orders or other mental health history, but they had 47 denials by Licensing Board Decision. According to the report, these decisions are "based on MCL 28.425b(7)(n), which states that issuing a license would be detrimental to the safety of the applicant or to any other individual."

MCL 28.425b(7)(n) reads:
Issuing a license to the applicant to carry a concealed pistol in this state is not detrimental to the safety of the applicant or to any other individual. A determination under this subdivision shall be based on clear and convincing evidence of repeated violations of this act, crimes, personal protection orders or injunctions, or police reports or other clear and convincing evidence of the actions of, or statements of, the applicant that bear directly on the applicant’s ability to carry a concealed pistol.

Sounds like it's sort of a catch-all clause for chronic troublemakers who have avoided conviction on a disqualifying offense.

rms/pa
September 25, 2005, 07:21 PM
that sounds like PA's disqualification for being a "common and habitual drunkard"
cumberland county sherrifs' attitude on this is 3 or more disorderly conduct encounters with alchohol present counts.

rms/pa

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