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Public sector/Quality of life

Michigan counties ranked for per-capita handgun permits

WHERE THE HANDGUN (PERMITS) ARE: On a per-capita basis, handgun permits are more common in Michigan’s northern and rural counties than in urban counties such as Wayne, Ingham and Kent. (courtesy photo/used under Creative Commons license)

WHERE THE HANDGUN (PERMITS) ARE: On a per-capita basis, handgun permits are more common in Michigan’s northern and rural counties than in urban counties such as Wayne, Ingham and Kent. (courtesy photo/used under Creative Commons license)

Guns are becoming more uncommon in households across the United States. The most recent national survey found the ownership rate at below 35 percent.

Figures specific to Michigan are hard to come by. In 2002, a survey by the Department of Community Health found that 40.5 percent of respondents said they had a firearm – a term that covers everything from a handgun to a rifle to a shotgun – in the home. A year prior, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 38.4 percent of Michigan households had a firearm.


The best figures from the Michigan State Police don’t even apply to guns directly. The State Police track permit applications for carrying concealed handguns.

Bridge analyzed MSP data from March on the county level and compared it with census figures to rank all 83 counties by the number of approved permits per capita. (The MSP has subsequently posted raw numbers for April, found here.)

The top 10 counties in the per-capita ranking share two primary characteristics:

*They are in the northern half of the state.

*They have smaller populations.


4 comments from Bridge readers.Add mine!

  1. McFlibby

    It would be interesting and perhaps informative to see some other data in the table. Such as the population of each county and the number of homicides. The former is easy to obtain, the latter can be found here ( A quick scan would seem to show an almost inverse relationship between these. I’m not suggesting a conclusion, just fodder for conversation.

  2. Ken Oscarson

    How about adjusting the populations to eliminate those people that can’t own because they are underage, a felon, live in a dorm or on campus. Big population centers have a more transient workforce and owning a hand gun when you may move from state to state building your career is a real pain. Bigger metropolitan areas tend to have larger police presence which provides a greater sense of security for the residents. I think you should look at how many CPLs have been issued since Michigan change its law allowing its citizens the right and responsibility of self protection. I think your statistics for a reduction in number of households containing guns has been influenced by politics and more and more people will just not disclose this personal information any more.

  3. Greg

    Based on county rankings on gun permits issued per capita, residents in the top twenty counties for most gun permits issued per capita are 10 times LESS likely to die from a firearm homicide versus residents in the twenty counties with fewest gun permits issued per capita. (The average death rate per 100,000 is .1 in the 20 counties with most permits, versus 1 per 100,000 in the 20 counties with fewest permits per capita).

  4. Big D

    OK, I’m confused. The headline and most of the article implies we’re talking about all handgun permits. BUT, tucked in there is one implication that we may only be talking about CCW permits. Isn’t that a huge difference, and one worthy of better revelation??

    It seems to me that if you knew where ALL the guns were, the distribution would favor the resourceful counties even more…

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