BIG RAPIDS - County gun boards previously involved in issuing concealed pistol licenses are no more, with the new process for obtaining a CPL officially going into effect this week. As of Dec. 1, 2015, it is the responsibility of the county clerk to issue a CPL to an applicant who is not statutorily disqualified by the Michigan State Police. Applicants must receive a decision regarding their application within 45 days of when classifiable fingerprints are taken. County concealed weapon licensing boards previously reviewed and made the decision regarding CPL applications by utilizing the Law Enforcement Information Network and National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The boards would meet monthly to go over the applications, but the task of determining eligibility and checking backgrounds will now be handled by the Michigan State Police. The changes will not affect the workload of the clerk's office, said Mecosta County Clerk Marcee Purcell. "We're still doing an administrative role," she explained. "Before we were doing this for the gun board, and now it will be for the Michigan State Police. We still accept applications just like we have in the past. The only additional step is for us to enter the application into a portal for the state police use." While the process doesn't change much for staff at the clerk's office, there are notable changes CPL holders should be aware of, Purcell said. Aspects of application and renewals that previously did not have time limits now do, she said. "Anyone who has a current CPL and wants to apply for a renewal must do so within one year of the license expiring," Purcell said. "If they wait more than a year, they will be considered a re-applicant and need to be re-fingerprinted and retake the class." Those who take CPL training must submit their application within five years of the class date. Other changes include an initial application and licensing fee of $100 and a renewal application and licensing fee of $115. While advocates of the elimination of the gun boards state this new process will standardize how CPLs are issued, Mecosta County Sheriff Todd Purcell is not in favor of the new system. He along with other northern Michigan sheriffs collectively lobbied to have the new law contain a provision giving counties the option to continue gun boards if they desired, but it was unsuccessful. The sheriff, who was on the gun board along with the Mecosta County Prosecutor and a Michigan State Police Officer, noted there is a benefit to local authorities being able to review CPL applications. "We know our people here within the county," he said. "We know firsthand the ones who may be on the fence or maybe need a little more time to stay clean and stay on the good side of the law before having the privilege of a CPL license. "It's my feeling that even though some people throughout the state may have slipped through the cracks of the previous system, unfortunately, I feel there will be several people who fall through the cracks under this new system." Individuals who wish to apply for a CPL may obtain a free concealed pistol application kit from the county clerk during normal business hours. Kits include the application form and additional information regarding the procedures for obtaining a CPL. Applications also are available at the sheriff's office, but must be turned into the Mecosta County Clerk's Office.