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Michigan Gun Control Laws

Laws regulating the purchase, possession, use, and carrying of firearms vary from state to state. With each mass shooting concerns grow about gun violence, and the prevalence of firearm-related deaths in childhood accidents and suicide also raises issues about gun safety. 

State legislators may respond to these matters with stricter gun regulations in some states. However, they often try to balance public safety with the rights of law-abiding gun owners. 

Michigan gun laws reflect that struggle. In terms of gun control, the state falls somewhere in the middle of the pack.

Federal Firearms Law

Federal gun laws navigate many of the same challenges seen at the state level. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the public's right to bear arms while federal law enforcement agencies seek to control and regulate dangerous weapons. 

The federal government provides licensing requirements for gun dealers. It also enforces prohibitions to keep guns out of the hands of felons and other prohibited persons. 

Under federal law, a licensed gun dealer must refer all gun purchases for a criminal background check prior to delivery. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) was created to assist in this process.

Michigan Gun Control Laws

In Michigan, tragedy has brought changes in the law and in the resolve to hold violent offenders accountable. In 2021, a Michigan student shot and killed four students and injured seven others at Oxford High School. In 2023, a lone gunman on the campus of Michigan State University killed four students and injured seven others before taking his own life. 

State prosecutors convicted the high school shooter, obtaining a sentence of life in prison without parole. They also charged both parents of the shooter with four counts of involuntary manslaughter for buying the gun used in the crime and disregarding their son's mental health issues and threatening behavior. Both parents were convicted by juries in separate trials.​

New Laws

The Michigan legislature enacted new gun regulations after these incidents, becoming the 21st state to adopt a red flag law. In Michigan, family and household members, law enforcement, and health care providers can file for a court to issue an extreme risk protection order. 

The law provides an opportunity for a court to hear evidence of whether a person presents a serious risk of physical harm to self or others if they have access to a firearm. 

The state also closed legal loopholes to provide universal background checks on all firearm purchases in the state. Gun buyers will now be subject to a background check whether the purchase occurs before a licensed dealer or through a private sale. 

State lawmakers also imposed firearm prohibitions on those with misdemeanor domestic violence convictions and passed a safe storage law to help prevent children from accessing loaded firearms.

License and Carry Laws

Unlike some states, Michigan requires that citizens apply for a purchase license before buying a firearm. This includes handguns and long guns. Sales records of handgun purchases must be shared with law enforcement. 

The state also requires that citizens who want to carry a concealed firearm must first obtain a concealed pistol license (CPL). As a result, the state vets anyone purchasing a firearm by running a criminal background check prior to the delivery of the weapon. 

The Michigan State Police provide information on the concealed carry permit process. Those who have a valid CPL do not have to obtain a purchase license each time they buy a firearm.

Like other states, Michigan provides a list of restricted locations where gun owners generally cannot take a firearm. These include:

  • Schools
  • Depository financial institutions, their subsidiaries, and their affiliates
  • Churches and other houses of worship
  • Courts
  • Theaters
  • Sports arenas
  • Daycare centers
  • Hospitals
  • Licensed liquor establishments
  • Dormitory or classroom of a university or college

It should be noted that there are often exemptions for law enforcement officers, security personnel, and those with a valid CPL. Gun owners should verify the status of a particular location in advance.

In 2020, issues related to security at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing arose after armed protesters arrived in the building opposing the extension of state lockdown orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2023, the Michigan State Capitol Commission adopted a no-weapons policy within the Capitol building. Exceptions to the policy are severely limited.

Overview of Michigan Gun Control Laws

The finer points of Michigan's firearms laws are highlighted in the following chart. For more articles and resources, see the links at the end of this article.

Relevant Michigan Gun Control Statutes (Laws)

Michigan Compiled Laws (MCL), Chapter 28, Michigan State Police - Firearms — Sections 421 through 435
  • Section 28.422: Licensure to purchase, carry, possess, or transport pistol or firearm
  • Section 28.422a: Purchasing, carrying, possessing, using, or transporting pistols by individuals with other licenses
  • Section 28.425b: Licensure to carry concealed pistol
  • Section 28.425k: Carrying concealed pistol or portable electro-muscular disruption device while under the influence
  • Section 28.425o: Carrying concealed pistol or portable electro-muscular disruption device on prohibited premises
  • Section 28.429: Storage of unattended firearm on premises with minor present
  • Section 28.435: Federally licensed firearms dealers; requirements and duties

Michigan Compiled Laws (MCL), Chapter 750, Michigan Penal Code, Chapter 37, Firearms — Sections 222 through 239a

Illegal Arms

The following are illegal to possess:

  • Machine gun or firearm that shoots or is designed to shoot automatically more than one shot without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger
  • Muffler or silencer
  • Short-barreled shotgun except as permitted by federal law
  • Short-barreled rifle except as permitted by federal law
  • Armor-piercing ammunition
  • A device that is designed or intended to be used to convert a semiautomatic firearm into a fully automatic firearm
  • Defaced firearms with altered, removed, or obliterated identification marks

Waiting Period

Michigan has no waiting period for purchasing a firearm.

Who May Not Own

The following individuals are prohibited from possessing or purchasing a firearm in Michigan:

  • Persons under the age of eighteen
  • Convicted felons (individuals may have their gun ownership rights restored after certain conditions are met)
  • Persons convicted of a misdemeanor involving domestic violence (individuals may have their gun ownership rights restored after certain conditions have been met)
  • Persons who have been declared insane and their sanity has not been restored by court order
  • Persons under order for commitment due to mental illness
  • Persons judged legally incapacitated
  • Persons under indictment for a felony offense
  • Persons under certain court orders that prohibit possession of a firearm such as a domestic violence protection order or an extreme risk protection order
  • Persons otherwise prohibited under federal law

License Required?

Yes. To purchase a firearm in Michigan you need either a purchase license for the transaction or a concealed pistol license.

Concealed Carry License Required?

Yes. Michigan requires you to obtain a Concealed Pistol License (CPL) to carry a concealed pistol in the state. Non-residents with a valid concealed carry permit from their home state may qualify for reciprocity.

Open Carried Allowed?

Yes. Open carry is allowed in Michigan. However, there are location restrictions and specific regulations related to motor vehicles.

Eligibility for a Concealed Carry License

To obtain a concealed pistol license, a person must:

  • Be 21 years of age or older
  • Be a citizen of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted into the United States
  • Be a legal resident of Michigan who has resided in Michigan for not less than the six months preceding the date of application
  • Have knowledge and training in the safe use and handling of a pistol through the successful completion of a pistol safety training course or class
  • Not be the subject of an order or disposition under any of the following: involuntary hospitalization or treatment, legal incapacitation, personal protection order, bond or conditional release prohibiting purchase or possession of a firearm, finding of not guilty by reason of insanity, or emergency risk protection order (red flag law)
  • Not be prohibited from possessing a firearm under Michigan law or federal law
  • Not have a felony charge pending against you or specified misdemeanor charges pending against you
  • Not have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor involving domestic violence in Michigan or elsewhere
  • Not have been dishonorably discharged from the United States Armed Forces
  • Not have 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
  • Have never been subject to an order of involuntary commitment in an inpatient or outpatient setting due to mental illness
  • Not have a diagnosed mental illness that includes an assessment that the individual presents a danger to themself or another
  • Not be under a court order of legal incapacity in Michigan or elsewhere
  • Have a valid state-issued driver's license or personal identification card
  • Submit fingerprints and pass a criminal background check

Machine Gun Laws

It is illegal to manufacture, sell, or possess a machine gun under Michigan law. There are limited exceptions for those under contract with the U.S. government or licensed to possess the weapon under federal law.

Penalties for Illegal Firearm Possession

Illegal possession is usually a felony, but it depends on the circumstances.

  • Sale of firearm or ammunition to prohibited person is a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
  • Manufacture, sale, or possession of illegal weapons (such as machine gun, short-barreled rifle, short-barreled shotgun) is a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $2,500, or both.
  • Manufacture, sale, or use of armor-piercing ammunition or semi-automatic firearm conversion devices is a felony, punishable by up to four years in prison, a fine of up to $2,000, or both.
  • Illegal possession or sale of a firearm or ammunition by a person convicted of a felony or misdemeanor domestic violence offense is a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
  • Illegal carrying of a concealed weapon is a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $2,500, or both.
  • Defacing a firearm is a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
  • Unlawful possession of a firearm on a prohibited premises is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail, a fine of up to $100, or both.
  • Unlawful possession of a firearm by a minor in public is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail, a fine of up to $100, or both.

Penalties for Illegal Possession on or Near School Grounds

In general, illegal possession of a firearm on school property or grounds is punishable as a misdemeanor by any or all of the following:

  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Up to 100 hours of community service
  • Up to $2,000 in fines
There are several exceptions. For example, those with a valid CPL may face only a civil infraction and fine. Penalties may increase on subsequent violations or based on the specific nature of the violation involved.

Red Flag Law?

Yes. Michigan enacted a red flag law in 2024. Certain family members, law enforcement officers, and/or health care providers can petition a court to issue an extreme risk protection order in appropriate cases. The court must find that the subject person presents a risk of causing serious physical harm to self or others by possessing a firearm.

Universal Background Checks?

Yes. To purchase a firearm in Michigan, you must have either a permit to purchase or a concealed handgun license. Both circumstances require you to see a licensed firearms dealer who will run a criminal background check prior to the weapon's delivery.

Stand Your Ground Law?

Yes. In certain situations where state law finds that the use of deadly force is justified, a person who is in a place they have a right to be and not committing a crime may use such force in self-defense with no duty to first retreat.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts that include federal decisions, ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the status of any state law(s) you are reviewing.

Research the Law

Facing a Firearms Violation in Michigan? Speak With an Attorney

If you have questions about your legal rights to own a firearm or you have been charged with a firearms violation, consider contacting an experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney. In criminal matters, individuals who cannot afford to hire a private attorney may be eligible for representation by the local public defender's office.

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