How Open Carry of a Firearm Works in Michigan

In Michigan, it is legal for a person to openly carry a firearm in public as long as the person is carrying the firearm with lawful intent (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) and the firearm must not be concealed.

What does concealed mean?

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. 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).

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 open-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:

  1. A depository financial institution (e.g., bank or credit union)
  2. A church or other place of religious worship
  3. A court
  4. A theater
  5. A sports arena
  6. A day care center
  7. A hospital
  8. An establishment licensed under the Liquor Control Code

However, a private property owner does have 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).

Can I “open carry” my pistol in my car?

No, 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.

If you intend to transport a pistol, you can do so only for a “lawful purpose.” A lawful purpose includes going to or from any one of the following:

  1. A hunting or target shooting area
  2. A place of repair
  3. While in the processs of moving goods from a home or business to another home or business
  4. A law enforcement agency (for a safety inspection or to turn the pistol over to the agency)
  5. A gun show or place of sale or purchase of guns
  6. A public shooting facility
  7. Public land where shooting is legal
  8. Private property where a pistol may be lawfully used.

Additionally, 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 pistol. There are few exceptions to the above statute, which are found in MCL 750.231a.

For instance, MCL 750.231a provides that a pistol can be transported for a “lawful purpose” (described above) by a person not licensed to carry a concealed pistol if the owner complies with all of the following:

  1. It is unloaded and separated from the ammunition
  2. It is in a closed case designed for firearms
  3. It is in the trunk (or if the vehicle has no trunk, it must not be readily accessible to the occupants)

*As a reminder when purchasing the pistol you intend to open carry:

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. 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. After 30 days, there is no requirement to have either record in your possession or to keep either record.

As you can see, you can legally “open carry” a pistol in Michigan, if you follow the various laws that restrict your ability to do so. If you violate any of these restrictions, even accidentally, you may have serious legal consequences. If you have more questions, contact us today!


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