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Former Sheriff calls proposed concealed carry bills "disturbing"

New legislation is aimed at loosening gun laws by removing the requirement for a concealed weapon permit.

A package of bills introduced this week would make it easier for people to carry a concealed handgun in Michigan.

These bills have placed some very strong proponents of gun ownership in the position of opposing legislation that making it easier to carry a concealed weapon.

"You have to get a driver's license, you have to go through training to get a driver's license, but you wouldn't need one for carrying a gun," says Andrew Miller. "I think that's wrong."

Andrew Miller teaches firearms training in Beulah including concealed carry classes that are, at the moment, needed to get a concealed carry permit.

As best as he can tell, the purpose of the bills is to make it easier to carry a concealed weapon.

"Just makes it easier to get a license," says Miller. "Just to make it simple. Everyone should be able to carry. You should be able to carry. To a point you should be able to carry. But I think you need to have training."

One of the bills' sponsors is Representative Triston Cole.

Cole calls the current permitting process a government over-reach.

"My concern is: no training, no legal training, no marksmanship, just being able to survive the background, and have a firearm," says Rory Heckman, former Sheriff in Benzie County. "And then you can conceal it and be able to do that. That's very disturbing."

Paul Bean sells guns at his shop near honor.

"I believe that people should be trained. Absolutely," says Bean who owns Get-Ur-Guns along US 31. "I think people should be smart enough to go out and get training. That's what I think they should do. But I don't believe people should be relinquishing or losing their right, their legal and law abiding right to buy and own a gun just because they have not chosen to get trained."

Cole says training and education will still be part of gun ownership.

"In fact I see a renewed push towards those and more people taking the safety classes," says Cole who represents Michigan's 105th District. "Because as more people are able to carry, they're very concerned about staying up to date on laws, pistol free zones, and what it means, the responsibility carrying a handgun or a firearm."."

"And I believe in the people's right to bear arms, but there's a limit," says Heckman. And I want the people to be training and want them to go through the procedure in order to legally carry the gun and have some knowledge about what you're doing."

Meanwhile, Heckman says he expects law enforcement organizations will have something to say about all of it.

"I gotta believe that they are talking to our legislators and saying, what the heck are you doing here?"

"It's not something that I would vote against, but it would be something that I wouldn't necessarily agree with in its entirety," says Bean. "Because I believe that people need to be educated on how to handle guns, for one thing. But for another thing, I think that people need to be educated on when and how and when not to."

Heckman also says the job of law enforcement is going to get a lot tougher; not knowing who's carrying, and who isn't.

In December, Michigan changed the way concealed carry permits were approved, getting rid of county gun boards in favor of an approval process through the Michigan State Police and county clerks' offices.

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