Michigan does not have an “open-carry” law per se. The “right to keep and bear arms” is enumerated and preserved by both the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Section Six of the Constitution of Michigan of 1963. Beyond this general grant, U.S. and Michigan law restrict the time, place and manner that an ordinary person can possess or use a firearm. Generally speaking, a person can carry a firearm in public as long at the firearm is not concealed and the firearm is carried with lawful intent. To not be concealed, a weapon should be “readily observable by persons in the ordinary and usual associations of life.” People v Jackson, 43 Mich App 569, 570-571; 204 NW2d 367 (1972). Lawful intent means that the weapon isn’t carried for the purpose of committing a crime or a violation of the law.
However, open-carry Michigan residents should be aware of several legal restrictions in exercising their rights. These limitations include the following:
An individual less than 18 years of age shall not possess a firearm in public except under the direct supervision of an individual 18 years of age or older, contrary to MCL 750.234f. However, this does not apply to a minor with a firearm with a hunting license or to a minor without a hunting license going to or from a recognized target range or shooting ground if the firearm is properly secured. Violation of this provision can result in a misdemeanor conviction punishable by up to 90 days in jail or a fine up to $100.00, or both.
An individual shall not possess a firearm on the premises, contrary to MCL 750.234d, of a depository financial institution or its subsidiary or affiliate, a church or other house of religious worship, a court, a theatre, a sports area, a day care center, a hospital, an establishment licensed to serve liquor. No firearms are permitted in a dormitory or classroom of a community college, college, or university. These restrictions do not apply to a person employed or contracted by any of those entities to provide security, a person who has permission of the owner to possess the firearm, a peace officer, or a person licensed in this state or another state to carry a concealed weapon. Violation of this provision can result in a misdemeanor conviction punishable by up to 90 days in jail or a fine up to $100.00, or both.
WEAPON FREE SCHOOL ZONE
An individual who possesses a weapon in a weapon free school zone is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail, a fine up to $2,000.00 and/or community service up to 100 hours. MCL 750.237a(4).
A “weapon free school zone” means “school property and a vehicle used by a school to transport students to or from school property.” MCL 750.237a(6)(e).
- “School” means a public, private, denominational, or parochial school offering developmental kindergarten, kindergarten, or any grade from 1 through 12. MCL 750.237a(6)(b).
- “School property” means a building, playing field, or property used for school purposes to impart instruction to children or used for functions and events sponsored by a school, except a building used primarily for adult education or college extension courses. MCL 750.237a(6)(c).
- “Weapon” includes, but is not limited to, a pneumatic gun. MCL 237a(6)(d).
The “weapon free school zone” restrictions DO NOT apply to any of the following:
- An individual employed by or contracted by a school if the possession of that weapon is to provide security services for the school. MCL 237a(5)(a).
- A peace officer. MCL 237a(5)(b).
- An individual licensed by this state or another state to carry a concealed weapon. MCL 237a(5)(c).
- An individual who possesses a weapon provided by a school or a school’s instructor on school property for purposes of providing or receiving instruction in the use of that weapon. MCL 237a(5)(d).
- An individual who possesses a firearm on school property if that possession is with the permission of the school’s principal or an agent of the school designated by the school’s principal or the school board. MCL 237a(5)(e).
- An individual who is 18 years of age or older who is not a student at the school and who possesses a firearm on school property while transporting a student to or from the school if ANY of the following apply:
- The individual is carrying an antique firearm, completely unloaded, in a wrapper or container in the trunk of a vehicle while en route to or from a hunting or target shooting area or function involving the exhibition, demonstration or sale of antique firearms. MCL 237a(5)(f)(i).
- The individual is carrying a firearm unloaded in a wrapper or container in the trunk of the person’s vehicle, while in possession of a valid Michigan hunting license or proof of valid membership in an organization having shooting range facilities, and while en route to or from a hunting or target shooting area. MCL 237a(5)(f)(ii).
- The individual is carrying a firearm unloaded in a wrapper or container in the trunk of the individual’s vehicle from the place of purchase to his or her home or place of business or to a place of repair or back to his or her home or place of business, or in moving goods from one place of abode or business to another place of abode or business. MCL 237a(5)(f)(iii).
- The individual is carrying an unloaded firearm in the passenger compartment of a vehicle that does not have a trunk, if the individual is otherwise complying with the requirements of subparagraph (ii) or (iii) and the wrapper or container is not readily accessible to the occupants of the vehicle. MCL 237a(5)(f)(iv).
There are also similar federal laws that penalize firearms in certain federal buildings or school zones. If a Michigan resident obtains a concealed pistol license (CPL), then several of these location restrictions pertaining to open-carry may be eliminated. While perfectly legal, open-carry individuals should be prepared to deal with the additional attention they will get from members of the public unsettled by the sight of the weapon. The gun-owner should also be aware that if he or she engages in criminal activity while armed with the weapon (even if not deployed) then he or she may face additional charges of carrying a dangerous weapon with unlawful intent or felony firearm. Common sense should be used at all times.
If you have any questions about firearm laws in the State of Michigan, do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC today.