Open Carry of Firearms
In Michigan, it is legal for a person to carry a firearm in public as long as the person is carrying the firearm with lawful intent and the firearm is not concealed. You will not find a law that states it is legal to openly carry a firearm. It is legal because there is no Michigan law that prohibits it; however, Michigan law limits the premises on which a person may carry a firearm.
Places Where It Is Illegal to Carry a Firearm
MCL 750.234d provides that it is a 90-day misdemeanor to possess a firearm on the premises of any of the following:
- A depository financial institution (e.g., bank or credit union)
- A church or other place of religious worship
- A court
- A theater
- A sports arena
- A day care center
- A hospital
- An establishment licensed under the Liquor Control Code
Exceptions and the Open Carry Laws
The above section does not apply to any of the following:
- The owner or a person hired as security (if the firearm is possessed for the purpose of providing security)
- A peace officer
- A person with a valid concealed pistol license (CPL) issued by any state (may carry non-concealed)
- A person who possesses one of the above listed premises with the permission of the owner or owner's agent
Officers must be aware of the above exemption for valid CPL holders as many of the citizens who openly carry firearms possess valid CPLs. An individual with a valid CPL may carry a non-concealed firearm in the above listed premises.
- A CPL holder is not required by law to carry a pistol concealed. A CPL holder may carry a pistol concealed or non-concealed.
- A private property owner has the right to prohibit individuals from carrying firearms on his or her property, whether concealed or otherwise, and regardless of whether the person is a CPL holder. If a person remains on the property after being told to leave by the owner, the person may be charged with trespassing (MCL 750.552).
- MCL 750.226 states it is a felony for a person to carry a dangerous weapon, including a firearm, with the intent to use the weapon unlawfully against another person.
- Possession of firearms in public by a minor is addressed in MCL 750.234f.
MCL 750.234e provides that it is a 90-day misdemeanor for a person to knowingly brandish a firearm in public. Brandishing is not defined in Michigan law and there are no reported Michigan cases that define the term. Attorney General Opinion No. 7101 provides guidance and states, "A person when carrying a handgun in a holster in plain view is not waving or displaying the firearm in a threatening manner. Thus, such conduct does not constitute brandishing a firearm...."
Michigan law details how firearms may be transported in a vehicle. MCL 750.227c and MCL 750.227d discuss the transportation of firearms, other than pistols, in vehicles. MCL 750.227(2) makes it a felony for a person to transport a pistol anywhere in a vehicle unless the person is licensed to carry a concealed weapon.
This update is provided for informational purposes only. Officers should contact their local prosecutor for an interpretation before applying the information contained in this update. MSP Legal Update No. 86 Page 2 of 3 pistol. Exceptions to the above statute are found in MCL 750.231a.
One such exception allows for transportation of pistols in a vehicle for a "lawful purpose." A lawful purpose includes going to or from any one of the following:
- A hunting or target area
- A place of repair
- Moving goods from a home or business to another home or business
- A law enforcement agency (for a safety inspection or to turn the pistol over to the agency)
- A gun show or place of sale or purchase
- A public shooting facility
- Public land where shooting is legal
- Private property where a pistol may be lawfully used
MCL 750.231a also provides that a pistol transported for a "lawful purpose" by a person not licensed to carry a concealed pistol must be all of the following:
- In a closed case designed for firearms
- In the trunk (or if the vehicle has no trunk, it must not be readily accessible to the occupants)
There is no way to "open carry" a pistol in a vehicle. An individual, without a CPL or otherwise exempted (e.g., a police officer), who transports a pistol in a vehicle to an area where he or she intends to "open carry" may be in violation of MCL 750.227.
Carrying Concealed Weapons
MCL 750.227 also makes it a felony for a person to carry a concealed pistol on or about his or her person unless the person is exempt under MCL 750.231 or MCL 750.231a. Complete invisibility is not required. The carrying of a pistol in a holster or belt outside the clothing is not carrying a concealed weapon. Carrying a pistol under a coat is carrying a concealed weapon. Op. Atty. Gen. 1945, O-3158. According to the Court of Appeals in People v. Reynolds, a weapon is concealed if it is not observed by those casually observing the suspect as people do in the ordinary course and usual associations of life. 38 Mich App. 159 (1970).
MCL 28.422 provides that a person shall not purchase, carry, possess or transport a pistol in Michigan without first having obtained a License to Purchase and registering the pistol. The statute contains exemptions for certain persons and additional exemptions are located in MCL 28.422a and in MCL 28.432.
A person with a valid Michigan CPL does not have to obtain a License to Purchase; however, he or she still has to register the pistol after he or she purchases or otherwise acquires it using a Pistol Sales Record (MCL 28.422a). Violation is a state civil infraction. Additionally, a person with a valid CPL can carry, possess, use, or transport a properly registered pistol belonging to another (MCL 28.432).
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 commonly referred to as Registration Certificates or Green Cards. Officers are reminded that after 30 days, there is no requirement to have either record in their possession or to keep either record.
MCL 28.425o provides that a person with a valid CPL shall not carry a concealed pistol in a pistol-free zone. First offense is a state civil infraction. The following is a list of the premises (excluding parking lots) included in the statute:
- School or school property, except a parent or legal guardian who is dropping off or picking up a child and the pistol is kept in the vehicle
- Public or private day care center
- Sports arena or stadium
- A bar or tavern where sale and consumption of liquor by the glass is the primary source of income (does not apply to owner or employee of the business)
- Any property or facility owned or operated by a church, synagogue, mosque, temple or other place of worship, unless authorized by the presiding official
- An entertainment facility that has a seating capacity of 2,500 or more
- A hospital
- A dormitory or classroom of a community college, college, or university
- A casino (R 432.1212, MCL 432.202)
Note, the above statute applies to CPL holders carrying a concealed pistol. If the CPL holder is carrying a non-concealed pistol, the statute does not apply. As noted above, the unlawful premises listed in MCL 750.234d do not apply to persons with a valid CPL. Therefore, a person with a valid CPL may carry a non-concealed. This update is provided for informational purposes only. Officers should contact their local prosecutor for an interpretation before applying the information contained in this update. MSP Legal Update No. 86 Page 3 of 3. This update is provided for informational purposes only. Officers should contact their local prosecutor for an interpretation before applying the information contained in this update. pistol in the areas described in MCL 28.425o and MCL 750.234d.
Additionally, the above listed pistol-free zones for CPL holders do not apply to the following individuals when they are licensed to carry a concealed weapon:
- Retired police officers
- Persons employed or contracted by a listed entity to provide security where carrying a concealed pistol is a term of employment
- Licensed private detectives or investigators
- Sheriff's department corrections officers
- State police motor carrier officers or capital security officers
- Members of a sheriff's posse
- Auxiliary or reserve officers of a police or sheriff's department
- Parole or probation officers of the department of corrections
- Current or retired state court judges
Non-residents may legally possess a firearm more than 30 inches in length in Michigan. In order for a non-resident to possess a pistol in Michigan, he or she must either be licensed to carry a concealed pistol or be licensed by his or her state of residence to purchase, carry, or transport a pistol. The ownership of property in Michigan does not qualify a non-resident to possess a pistol in Michigan.
Non-Resident Concealed Pistol Possession
MCL 750.231a makes it legal for a non-resident of Michigan with a valid CPL issued by his or her state of residence to carry a concealed pistol in Michigan as long as the pistol is carried in conformance with any and all restrictions appearing on the license. Individuals with out of state CPLs are subject to Michigan laws that govern Michigan CPL holders. As many states issue CPLs to out-of-state residents, officers should verify that the person actually resides in the state that issued the license. If the person does not reside in the state that issued the license, Michigan does not recognize the CPL and the person may not carry a concealed pistol in Michigan.
Possession of Pistols by Non-Residents
MCL 28.432 makes it legal for non-residents of Michigan who hold valid CPLs issued by another state to possess a non-concealed pistol in Michigan without complying with Michigan's pistol registration requirements. Additionally, MCL 28.422 exempts residents of other states from Michigan's pistol registration requirements therefore, allowing them to possess a pistol in Michigan, if all of the following requirements are met:
- The person is licensed by his or her state of residence to purchase, transport or carry a pistol
- The person is in possession of the license while in Michigan
- The person owns the pistol possessed in Michigan
- The person possesses the pistol for a lawful purpose as defined in MCL 750.231a
- The person is in Michigan less than 180 days and does not intend to establish residency here
A non-resident must present the license issued by his or her state of residence to a police officer upon demand. Failure to do so is a 90-day misdemeanor. When transporting a firearm in Michigan, non-residents must transport pistols in compliance with MCL 750.231a (discussed above in the Transporting Firearms section), unless they have a concealed pistol license issued by their state of residence.
Officers are reminded that the Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. Carrying a non-concealed firearm is generally legal. Officers may engage in a consensual encounter with a person carrying a non-concealed pistol; however, in order to stop a citizen, officers are required to have reasonable suspicion that crime is afoot. For example, officers may not stop a person on the mere possibility the person may be carrying an unregistered pistol. Officers must possess facts rising to the level of reasonable suspicion to believe the person is carrying an unregistered pistol.
Officers are also reminded there is no general duty for a citizen to identify himself or herself to a police officer unless the citizen is being stopped for a Michigan Vehicle Code violation.
Michael J. Willis J.D., C.P.A.
Shaun P. Willis J.D.
Frank D. Willis J.D.
Donald H. Smith
Mariko C. Willis
Samuel R. Gilbertson J.D.
Verelle Kirkwood J.D.
Kristyn Meylenberg J.D.