In New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc., et. al. v. Bruen, Superintendent Of New York State Police et. al., ___ U.S. ___; ___ S.Ct. ___; __L.Ed. __ (2002)(20-843), the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a New York statute that permits an individual to obtain an unrestricted license to “have and carry” a concealed “pistol or revolver” only if he or she can prove a “proper cause exists” for possessing the weapon. What impact does this decision have on Michigan’s firearm laws?
HOLDING IN NEW YORK STATE RIFLE & PISTOL ASSOCIATION V BRUEN
Petitioners Brandon Koch and Robert Nash both attempted to apply for a permit to carry a concealed handgun in public for self defense reasons but were denied. They then filed suit against the state officials who denied them on the basis that their Second Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated when they were denied unrestricted licenses for failing to demonstrate a unique need for self-defense. The U.S. District Court dismissed their complaints and the U.S. Court of Appeal upheld the decision, both holding that New York’s proper cause standard was “substantially related to the achievement of an important governmental interest.”
The U.S. Supreme Court disagreed and struck the New York law down:
- “In District of Columbia Heller, 554 U. S. 570 (2008), and McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U. S. 742 (2010), we recognized that the Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect the right of an ordinary, law-abiding citizen to possess a handgun in the home for self-defense. In this case, petitioners and respondents agree that ordinary, law-abiding citizens have a similar right to carry handguns publicly for their self-defense. We too agree, and now hold, consistent with Heller and McDonald, that the Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.” Slip op. at 1.
- “The parties nevertheless dispute whether New York’s licensing regime respects the constitutional right to carry handguns publicly for self-defense. In 43 States, the government issues licenses to carry based on objective criteria. But in six States, including New York, the government further conditions issuance of a license to carry on a citizen’s showing of some additional special need. Because the State of New York issues public-carry licenses only when an applicant demonstrates a special need for self-defense, we conclude that the State’s licensing regime violates the Constitution.” Slip op. at 1-2.
The U.S. Supreme Court determined in a 6-3 vote that the law violated the Constitution because it prevents ordinary law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to bear arms. A decision of the U.S. Supreme Court affects all states even if the case before it was specific to a law in New York.
IMPACT OF NEW YORK STATE RIFLE & PISTOL ASSOCIATION V BRUEN ON MICHIGAN LAW
Michigan eliminated from its statutes in 2001 any requirement that the applicant must state a reason why he or she wants to own a gun on a concealed weapon application and joined 43 other states that also don’t require any reason. State law clearly indicates that “[i]t is the intent of the legislature to create a standardized system for issuing concealed pistol licenses to prevent criminals and other violent individuals from obtaining a license to carry a concealed pistol, to allow law abiding residents to obtain a license to carry a concealed pistol, and to prescribe the rights and responsibilities of individuals who have obtained a license to carry a concealed pistol.” MCL 28.421a.
“To obtain a license to carry a concealed pistol, an individual shall apply to the county clerk in the county in which the individual resides.” MCL 28.425b(1). The statute removes any discretion from the government to deny a permit and, in fact, “[t]he county clerk SHALL issue and shall send by first-class mail a license to an applicant to carry a concealed pistol within the period required under this act if the county clerk determines that ALL of the following circumstances exist:”
- “The applicant is 21 years of age or older.” MCL 28.425b(7)(a).
- “The applicant is a citizen of the United States or is an alien lawfully admitted into the United States, is a legal resident of this state, and has resided in this state for not less than the 6 months immediately preceding the date of application.” MCL 28.425b(7)(b).
- “The applicant has knowledge and has had training in the safe use and handling of a pistol by the successful completion of a pistol safety training course or class.” MCL 28.425b(7)(c).
- “Based solely on the report received from the department of state police…”, the applicant is not the subject of a court order for involuntary hospitalization or assisted outpatient treatment under MCL 330.1464a, a court order declaring legal incapacitation under MCL 700.5107, a personal protection order under MCL 600.2950 and MCL 600.2950a, under bond conditions in a criminal case under MCL 765.6b, or a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity under MCL 769.16b. MCL 28.425b(7)(d).
- “Based solely on the report received from the department of state police…”, the applicant is not prohibited from possessing, using, transporting, selling, purchasing, carrying, shipping, receiving, or distributing a firearm under MCL 750.224f (felon in possession of firearms). MCL 28.425b(7)(e).
- “Based solely on the report received from the department of state police…, the applicant has never been convicted of a felony in this state or elsewhere, and a felony charge against the applicant is not pending in this state or elsewhere at the time he or she applies for a [concealed pistol] license.” MCL 28.425b(7)(f).
- “The applicant has not been dishonorably discharged from the United States Armed Forces.” MCL 28.425b(7)(g).
- “Based solely on the report received from the department of state police…”, the applicant has not been convicted in the 8 years immediately preceding the date of application of a misdemeanor charge (or has a misdemeanor charge pending) for offenses such as reckless driving or OWI-second offense, possession of controlled substances, displaying sexually explicit matter to minors, domestic assault or child abuse, recklessly or intentionally brandishing and discharging firearms, or indecent exposure. MCL 28.425b(7)(h).
- “Based solely on the report received from the department of state police…”, the applicant has not been convicted in the 3 years immediately preceding the date of application of a misdemeanor charge (or has a misdemeanor charge pending) for offenses such as OWI-first offense, operating off-road vehicles or snowmobiles while impaired, disorderly person, certain larceny and retail fraud offenses, malicious destruction of property, receiving and concealing stolen property or malicious use of a telecommunications device. MCL 28.425b(7)(i).
- “Based solely on the report received from the department of state police…, the applicant has not been found guilty but mentally ill of any crime and has not offered a plea of not guilty of, or been acquitted of, any crime by reason of insanity.” MCL 28.425b(7)(j).
- “Based solely on the report received from the department of state police…, the applicant is not currently and has never been subject to an order of involuntary commitment in an inpatient or outpatient setting due to mental illness.” MCL 28.425b(7)(k).
- “The applicant has filed a statement [with the application] that the applicant does not have a diagnosis of mental illness that includes an assessment that the individual presents a danger to himself or herself or to another at the time the application is made, regardless of whether he or she is receiving treatment for that illness.” MCL 28.425b(7)(l).
- “Based solely on the report received from the department of state police…, the applicant is not under a court order of legal incapacity in this state or elsewhere.” MCL 28.425b(7)(m).
- “The applicant has a valid state-issued driver license or personal identification card.” MCL 28.425b(7)(n).
In Michigan, the reason for obtaining a concealed pistol license is not relevant and the county clerk can ONLY deny the application if all of the criteria above are not met. “The county clerk shall not require the applicant to submit any additional forms, documents, letters, or other evidence of eligibility for obtaining a license to carry a concealed pistol except” for the information requested in the application. MCL 28.425b(2). The U.S. Supreme Court decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen does not impact current Michigan law.
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