THUMB AREA – The number of concealed pistol licenses has more than doubled in Michigan’s Thumb region since 2010 – and those who know guns don’t expect the trend to slow anytime soon.
According to Michigan State Police records, the number of concealed pistol licenses (CPLs) in Tuscola County has increased from 1,595 in 2010 to 3,376 in 2015 – up 111.7 percent.
In Huron County, the number has increased 124.2 percent – from 608 in 2010 to 1,363 in 2015. And in Sanilac County, the number of CPLs has increased from 1,149 in 2010 to 2,345.
Gun enthusiasts and business owners say numerous factors are behind the increase.
“I would say definitely increased violence, terrorist attacks, and the uncertainty politically of what’s going on right now,” said Jennifer Woline, manager of Millington-based EPP Tactical L.L.C.
Woline said EPP Tactical – which provides CPL training and sells guns – opened in January 2014 and business has been steady, but increased at least 25 percent in the last five months.
“We sell a lot more self-defense firearms than we do hunting,” she said.
Mike Brown, owner of Randy’s Hunting Center in Bad Axe, said he sees interest rise in pistols when headlines are full of tragedies like the recent mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.
“Everyone watches the news and see these shootings and stuff going on everyday throughout the country and I think it’s a case where more-or-less people want to be prepared for it and get ready for the unthinkable,” Brown said.
A particularly heated political environment also has an impact, too, he said, as people worry about facing tougher gun restrictions.
“Sometimes people who may be thinking about getting a gun hear certain things it becomes a ‘now-or-never’ type deal,” Brown said.
Jodi Fetting, Tuscola County clerk, said she has received 55 applications since Dec. 1 and that the figure is consistent with the number of applicants handled by the previous county gun board.
Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville, said during a recent sit down with The Advertiser that people want to be able to exercise their rights to own a gun.
“I told a lady recently that if someone is intent on killing a bunch of people, you can’t stop them with a chair,” he said. “Only another gun can stop someone like that.
“My solution is more guns, less crime,” said Green.
A CPL allows a Michigan resident to legally carry a concealed pistol once an application is approved. Currently, those who possess a CPL must openly carry their guns in gun-free zones such as churches and schools.
As of Dec. 1, Michigan law requires county clerks process CPL applications instead of county gun boards. Applications include a background check conducted by Michigan State Police and can take up to 45 days to process.
Green – who led efforts to eliminate county gun boards and is now involved in legislation that would allow guns to be carried in more places – told The Advertiser that it’s important to remember that a person having a CPL doesn’t necessarily mean he or she owns a gun.
“You would be surprised how many people don’t carry guns and have CPLs,” Green said. “They just want the right to (carry).”
Andrew Dietderich is news editor of The Tuscola County Advertiser and can be reached at 989-673-3181.