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Concerned Activists for Reform and Ethics

"I think it is important that MCRGO members are informed about how we are being treated."
- David K. Felbeck, President of MCRGO - October 24, 2003

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May/June 2004, page 11

What Does MCRGO Do For You?

By David Bieganowski

One of the most often asked (and unasked) question for people who are considering joining or are new to MCRGO is, "What benefit do I get by being a member of MCRGO?" The answer is a lot of things. Many of them take place quietly, without fanfare and often go unnoticed by the membership. Not all of them take place in Lansing or at the Michigan Supreme Court. Some take place right in your hometown.

Most counties scrambled to get up to speed on the new CCW law in 2001 since they were assured by associates in Lansing that the ballot effort to defeat the law would keep it from going into effect on July 1, 2001. Well, MCRGO had something to say about that and the law went into effect as passed which caught many counties with their proverbial pants down.

This resulted in numerous county gun boards engaging in 'curious' practices due to misunderstandings of the law. Some wanted every NRA instructor in the State of Michigan to fax or mail their NRA credentials to the gun board. Some claimed that certain training certificates were "no good" because of the date they were issued, the language on them, or some other reason. A few wanted letters from applicants' doctors stating that they didn't have a mental illness. That was a busy time for me calling sheriffs, prosecutors and county clerks and attempting to correct the problems. Often they didn't believe me and I had to put them in contact with the Michigan State Police Legal Resource Unit or some other more "authoritative" source.

One such item recently occurred in Antrim County, north of Traverse City. It was brought to my attention by a few members of the Elk Rapids Sportsman's Club in the summer of 2003, that the Antrim County Sheriff was still charging the $5 safety  

inspection/registration fee that was repealed by Public Act 381of 2000, effective July 1, 2001. This surprised me. When the new CCW law was first passed and went into effect, a number of other nearby counties continued to charge the $5 fee. But after I either wrote to or spoke with the sheriff, prosecutor or county clerk in those counties and explained the repeal of the fee, they ended that practice. One county even sent out refunds to those who were forced to the pay the fee after July 1, 2001.

After verifying the facts in Antrim County, I immediately shot off a polite letter to the Antrim County prosecutor, Charlie Koop. Mr. Koop confirmed that the sheriff was still charging the fee. He then requested an Attorney General opinion on whether the repeal of the fee violated the Headlee Amendment. The Attorney General's office recently confirmed that the county could no longer charge the $5.00 fee and the repeal did not violate Headlee. Antrim County no longer charges the fee.

I want members to know that MCRGO is working for you in this way 365 days a year. Just because you don't see its deeds on the front page of the newspaper, that doesn't mean that there aren't MCRGO volunteers and staff working for your rights. It is ironic, that the Elk Rapids Sportsman's Club (600+ members) in Antrim County, whose members benefited the most from this effort, refuses to affiliate with MCRGO.

We firearm enthusiasts are much more powerful and influential as a group. There is no more powerful group in the State of Michigan than the Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners. There is more work to be done and together we can preserve our rights for future generations. We have to do it together. United we stand.  

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DAVID BIEGANOWSKI, aka "The Marine Lawyer," is an attorney in Traverse City with the firm of Blakeslee & Chambers, PC. His practice focuses on business and real estate law, zoning, and estate planning. He is the MCRGO Chapter Chairperson for Northwestern Lower Michigan, Board member of the Cedar Rod & Gun Club, MUCC Director, and former Marine Embassy Security Guard. Besides teaching the legal portion of the CPL class, he is an NRA Certified Instructor for Personal Protection in the Home, Basic Pistol, and Refuse to be a Victim as well as an NRA Range Safety Officer and IDPA Range Safety Officer. He is an instructor for both the DNR Hunter's Safety program and the Young Marines organization.

Editor's Note: Mr. Bieganowski is very active within MCRGO and is always there for us when we need his assistance with legislative analysis.

May 2, 2004

Hey Dave- I read the article you submitted to the MCRGO newsletter and I'd have to say your comments re: ERSC absolutely stink. You address in the article the fact that there is strength in numbers and then turn right around and alienate I would guess most ERSC members that read it. I know you think the sun rises and sets on the command of MCRGO, but not all of us are in agreement on that. There is a much larger organization that was involved in the passage of CCW, that being the NRA. Talk about political clout! The leadership of MCRGO has been so screwy for the last few years I certainly hope ERSC doesn't affiliate. My humble opinion ( as a former chair and Board member and still very involved even though I'm no longer officially a spokesman for the club) is that this is not a very good way to attract folks to your group.

Respectfully, R. Jorgensen


I did want to make a point but fear I may have come off a bit strong. I do think some things have gone on at the ERSC that you may not be aware of. I do get calls from other ERSC members all the time. I help them the same as anyone else. There have been a lot of behind the scenes stuff done by me in Antrim and Charlevoix counties. Many of the club members have expressed disgust at the board's treatment of MCRGO.

I have been a member of ERSC for 7-8 years. The main reason the club never affiliated in the past was that Don didnt care for Ross Dykeman. Well, Ross has been gone for 3-4 years. With the help of a few board members, I asked the board to put me on the agenda to talk about the club affiliating with MCRGO since it was an election cycle. I addressed the board twice before Kroll got elected. There was support but they wanted more information. They told me to come to the next meeting when they had more time to discuss it. Chuck Perricone and I informed that board that we would come together for that meeting and would be interested in taking them all out to dinner beforehand. We were then told that the MCRGO discussion would be pushed to the following month due to some event. So we cancelled our trip. It turns out, they didn't postpone it and voted on it that month despite . Kroll led the charge against MCRGO. He is one of the conspriracy theorist and MCRGO haters. He has actively undermined MCRGO. So we got whip sawed and treated badly. I know we had support on that board before Kroll got on.

You of all people know that MCRGO did most of the work on the CCW issue is still working very hard on various sport shooting issues. The NRA didn't carry as much clout on the CCW stuff as MCRGO did. I had some inside info at the time about how the NRA and MUCC were conducting themselves in Lansing.

It does cheese me that ERSC doesn't support MCRGO. The organization was basically formed in the ERSC meeting room back in 96 or 97. Don and I were there. It cheeses me even more that we can't get an opportunity to make a fair presentation to the board.

There is nothing screwy about the leadership if MCRGO except some of the egos that come with the territory. The "rebellion" as I call it was only a small vocal bunch who were more concerned about who gets the credit that getting things done. That episode was much ado about nothing. I know many of the players and we are better off without the ones that left.

Chuck, Dale and the gang are very dedicated and talented. They get a lot done. They deserve our support. No one else in Michigan is doing as much or doing it as well.

I don't know if ERSC members will be alienated by what I wrote, or motivated to ask board members why the club is not affiliated. My purpose was to make folks think about it. I am not the most tactful guy and I hate club politics. It IS a shame that ERSC doesn't affiliate. What I say or don't say personally shouldn't make a difference. Regardless of what you or anyone thinks of me, MCRGO does deserve the club's support. I don't speak for MCRGO.

I am not involved in MCRGO as much as you think. I turned down offers to be a director a few times. I don't have the time or energy for all the non-MCRGO activist type stuff I do as it is. I am out of the loop and not involved in their politics. The only reason I am listed a Chapter chair is that no one else stood up to take any of those counties.

Thanks for your email. I really hope I didn't alienate anyone.

David Bieganowski

May 12, 2004

Mr. David A. Bieganowski
Blakeslee & Chambers, P.C.
900 E. Front St., #200-A
Traverse City, MI 98686

RE: What Does MCRGO Do For You?
Article Appeared in On Target Magazine

Dear Mr. Bieganowski:

This letter is in response to the above-referenced article. I do not recall meeting you, so let me introduce myself, I am J. Kevin Winters and I represent Elk Rapids Sportsman's Club (ERSC) to which you refer in the above article.

I read with great interest the above article. I applaud your efforts in Antrim County. However, what I did find disturbing was the reference to ERSC where you characterized ERSC as "whose members [that] benefited the most from this effort, [and] refuses to affiliate with MCRGO." The reason I find that reference disturbing is that it paints ERSC in a false light. More troublesome is the fact that the reference indicates that because ERSC has made a business decision not to affiliate with MCRGO at this time, that somehow they are deserving of your public comments and scorn.

My understanding is that MCRGO is a membership based organization. You hold yourself as an NRA certified instructor for personal protection in the home Basic Pistol and Refuse To Be a Victim, as well as an NRA range office. If you are this heavily involved in the NRA then you understand that even NRA, which has a national membership pool to draw from, only has a small portion of the gun owners in this country as members. Does that somehow mean that those who do not join the NRA are like those who did not join MCRGO? Deserving of public scorn? You know as well as I that all gun owners benefit from the activities of the NRA. That is the "price of poker" for a membership organization, so to publicly mischaracterize ERSC and scorn their membership is unfair and intellectually dishonest for someone with your credentials. Furthermore, your comments show that you must hold such views for all other "ungratefuls" in Michigan who also have decided not to join MCRGO.

In light of the foregoing, "It is ironic" (your term) that you go on to say in your article that "we firearm enthusiasts are more powerful and influential as a group" and "we have to do it together," while in the same article intentionally alienated ERSC and its members, and by inference, everyone else in Michigan who do not belong to MCRGO.

I hope that in fairness you print this letter in its entirety in the next issue of On Target and simultaneously issue an apology to the ERSC.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Very truly yours,
Foster Zack & Lowe, P.C.

J. Kevin Winters

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