Michigan Gun Laws: An Overview

Gun Laws

The Federal Government maintains some laws about guns, but in general, each state is responsible for setting the rules and regulations for gun possession, use, and ownership within their respective borders. If you’re in Michigan, it’s essential to understand the laws to avoid breaking the law, and facing possible convictions, and penalties.

Michigan Gun Laws: An Overview

Gun laws in Michigan require careful reading and comparisons to understand what is lawful and what is not. According to Click on Detroit, some of the gun laws are “somewhat confusing.” It’s a result of state guidelines that include caveats and exceptions with language that isn’t always straightforward. Some of the regulations and statutes seem to contradict one another, and changing laws upset the apple cart further. Our overview of the gun laws in Michigan tackles the basic laws as of July 2022 and clarifies the rules, highlighting exceptions in plain language.

How to understand Michigan Gun Laws?

Read the statutes that pertain to the area of Michigan gun law that pertains to your situation. Cross-reference all current information and exceptions, and write them down. For example, The Michigan Statewide Handgun Regulations, states “The rules listed below may not apply to those having a concealed pistol license (CPL) or those specifically exempt by law from a CPL and carrying their handgun per their license or exemption.” Compare the seeming contradictions as they explain unique situations requiring exceptions. If you still have questions, contact local your local law enforcement agency with clearly defined questions to address uncertainties.

Who can own handguns in Michigan?

Any eligible resident of Michigan can purchase a gun from a federally licensed gun dealer. The law requires long-gun buyers to be 18 years or older, and 21 years and older to buy a handgun. If you’re buying a handgun from a private seller, you must have a Concealed Permit Licence. All gun buyers must first submit to a NICS background check at the time of purchase. Federally licensed dealers are eligible to use a valid Michigan License to purchase a Pistol instead of a background check.

Who is not eligible to own guns in Michigan?

Michigan gun laws prohibit anyone who is mentally incapacitated, involved in mental health treatment under court order for involuntary services. People convicted of a felony or convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor cannot legally own or possess a gun. Persons under the age of 21 may not own a handgun and persons under the age of 18 may not own a gun.

How to buy a gun in Michigan

The process for buying a gun in Michigan is a five-step process. Find the firearm you want to buy from a Federally Licensed Dealer and complete form 4473. The dealer called the NICS hotline and relays your information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI conducts a background check. Upon completion, the dealer is notified of your status. If approved for a handgun, seller, and buyer complete form RI-0go to register the pistol in Michigan. The buyer and seller each receive a copy, and the buyer takes the MSP copy to their local police station within ten days of the purchase date. The buyer may then pay the dealer and take possession of the firearm. Nonresidents can apply for a CPL or license to purchase, legally carry or transport a handgun in Michigan. The CPL must be issued from their state of residence, and on their person at all times that the gun is in their possession.

Can you loan a pistol to another person?

It’s illegal to borrow or loan a pistol to a person if they are not eligible under the concealed pistol license. The borrower and lender may both be charged with a crime is discovered.

Where is it legal to possess a firearm in Michigan?

Barone Defense Firm explains that it’s legal for eligible gun owners to possess a firearm in their business or home without a concealed carry license or other permits. A person living in a motorhome can be charged with a crime if the weapon is loaded, but the laws are unclear and one could argue that it is technically their home. The laws are difficult to define as they contend that guns may be concealed in a “dwelling house.” It’s a technicality, but carrying a gun in the hallway of an apartment complex could get you into trouble. The argument over weapons charges for illegal possession in areas not meeting the definition of “dwelling house” has been ongoing.

It’s illegal to keep a loaded gun in a pickup camper that is attached to a truck, but if the camper is detached and you’re temporarily living in it. It could qualify as a dwelling, however, it may not prevent you from being charged and going before a judge. If it’s for recreational and camping purposes vs. your dwelling place, it’s illegal to have a concealed weapon that is loaded in the camper or recreational trailer. This is where it’s important to check with the local police department for clarification. It could go another way. The only safe way to ensure you’re within the law is to hold a CPL if you carry a concealed weapon in any RV. You may also get cited for having a concealed weapon in a hotel room. It’s a discretionary situation that depends on the police department and local judicial system. The law is ambiguous in this area. Michigan residents who are legal owners of guns may carry them in public if there is no unlawful intent and the weapon is displayed (open carry). No written law states that it is legal to open carry, but there are no laws against it.

Where is it illegal to possess a firearm in Michigan?

We’ve already covered the ambiguities of Michigan’s gun laws, but there are a few places you cannot legally possess a gun. Open carry is banned at the Capitol building. Willis Law confirms that it’s illegal to carry firearms in churches or other places where religious worship takes place. You cannot carry guns at a theater, a sports arena, a court, a hospital, a daycare center, or venues licensed through Liquor Control Code. Michigan has exceptions to open carry laws. They do not apply to peace officers, a person carrying with the permission of the owner of premises, or permission of an owner’s agent. CPL holders may carry non-concealed firearms in legalized areas. Gun owners with a CPL from any state may open carry. A homeowner or business owner may open carry if it is for security. An employee hired for security may possess a firearm while on duty. Private property owners may forbid persons from open carry and conceal carry on their property, regardless of CPL status. Refusing to leave after receiving notice to leave the property by the owner is subject to a trespassing charge. Carrying a firearm with intent to use it unlawfully against others is a felony. Individuals who pack a gun publicly with criminal intent may get charged with a 90-day misdemeanor in Michigan, but there is no definition in the law for Brandishing.

Transporting firearms in Michigan

You can legally transport firearms other than pistols in vehicles, but only if they are long guns, en route to a target area, hunting grounds, or a repair shop. It’s also legal to transport from a business to the owner’s home, a home to a business or public lands that allow shooting, a law enforcement agency for surrender or inspection, or private property where use is legal. The firearm must be in a place that is inaccessible to the occupants and unloaded. CPL holders may only transport pistols. Open carry in a vehicle may result in violations of gun laws and criminal charges.

Unusual gun laws in Michigan

Michigan’s laws are confusing. One of the most unusual laws is its requirement to retain a copy of the License to Purchase or a copy of their Pistol Sales Record for thirty days after the purchase date. After the thirty days expire, there isn’t a legal requirement to carry the cards to carry the records. It appears to be yet another ambiguous law that can easily be confused. Pistol buyers are required to have in their possession their copy of the License to Purchase or Pistol Sales Record when carrying, using, possessing, and transporting the pistol for 30 days after they acquire the pistol. These records are Registration Certificates or Green Cards. After 30 days, there is no requirement to have either record in their possession or to keep either record. It’s followed by a statute in the Firearms Act reminding everyone that it’s still required to register all pistol purchases. Failure to do so is a state civil infraction. Persons with a valid CPL are legally entitled to “carry, possess, use, or transport” registered pistols that belong to other people. Pistol-free zones are places with CPL holders may not carry concealed weapons without committing a civil infraction. The statute applies to the places previously mentioned, including schools or school property, with exceptions. Legal guardians or parents dropping students off at the school may have a pistol in the vehicle as long as it remains contained. Bar owners may possess a legal handgun, but visitors may not. Churches or other places of worship may authorize gun possession. It’s illegal to open or concealed carry a handgun at a casino, college, dormitory, or classroom. The statute does not apply to CPL holders practicing open carry with the weapon in full view.

Exemptions to concealed weapons carry in pistol-free zones

Some CPL holders licensed to carry a concealed weapon are exempt from the statutes relating to pistol-free zones. Current or retired police officers, state court judges, probation or parole officers employed with the Department of Corrections, Officers of the police, the Sheriff’s department or posse members, reserve, or auxiliary officers. Other exempt individuals are) security workers who are required to concealed carry a pistol as a part of their jobs, capital security staff, or motor carrier officers employed by the State police. ​​​​​​​

Is it ever legal to carry a pistol on public school property?

Giffords Law Center confirms that public, private, religious, and developmental schools, elementary and secondary schools are considered a “weapon-free school zone. Concealed weapons on a person or in a vehicle are prohibited. The statute includes vehicles used to transport kids to and from school. As with many other gun laws in Michigan, there are exemptions to the prohibition. Persons with permission from the principal of the school, or other officials, may legally carry a firearm. Persons age 18 and older, not a school student, may open carry while taking a child to or from the school if the gun is unloaded and stored out of reach in a container or trunk of the vehicle. The individual must have a valid hunting license for the state. A school instructor may grant permission for a firearm on campus to teach students facts about the weapon. A confusing statute states that a non-concealed gun may be carried in a weapon-free zone by a person who has a license to carry a concealed weapon. To summarize the confusing statutes, they grant parents or guardians permission to carry a gun in their vehicles in one place and prohibit the practice in another part of the law.

Michigan Gun Laws are difficult to understand

The rule of thumb when buying, possessing, using, or selling a firearm in Michigan is to read the laws and the associated statutes, then contact the police department in the place you reside or plan to visit. The rules are confusing because they’re poorly defined and are open to interpretation by the courts. Many situations involving gun possession are left to the discretion of law enforcement and the judicial system. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

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