With the controversy of the carrying of firearms at the state capitol during the recent protests, I felt the need to share with you the common laws regarding the carrying of firearms in Michigan.

We all have our own opinion of what is acceptable on a moral and personal level. This article is simply an explanation of what is legal.

Let me preface this by saying just because the law allows you to do something, doesn't mean it is always appropriate or provide a good optic to the public at large. I always say, just use some common sense. As it may be legal, openly armed protesters can distract from the issue at hand. Someone's intent can be overshadowed by the few that draw negative attention due to overbearing theatrics.

This is coming from a sheriff who is a firearms instructor and the trainer of firearms instructors, who is also the president and chair of the states largest pro-gun group. With that being said, I have my reservations on the conduct of others in the gun community. The fanatical approach of in-your-face antics sometimes reflects negatively on all firearm owners. One bad apple can make us all look bad.

In this edition of the "Sheriff's Corner", I discuss the laws relating to firearms possession, concealed pistols and open carry.

CONCEALED PISTOL LICENSE

Mistakenly referred to as a "CCW," a concealed pistol license (CPL) allows a person to carry a concealed pistol on their person or when carrying in a motor vehicle.

Concealed pistol laws have been in affect since the 1920's, but went through a significant change July 1, 2001. Michigan went from a "may" issue standard to that of a "shall" issue standard.

Prior to 2001, you had to have a reason to obtain a CPL, and it depended on the county's gun board on it's issuance. Each county had a gun board with a representative from the prosecutor's office, the sheriff's office and the Michigan State Police. The county gun board could deny, restrict or approve an application for CPL.

Most counties seldom issued "unrestricted" permits, rather restricting them to "while hunting and targeting" or "in accordance of their employment." You had to obtain a CPL in the county you lived in, which was valid for the entire state. However, depending on where you lived, some county gun boards were more restrictive than others.

This all changed in 2001 when the "shall" issue standard became law. You no longer have to provide a reason for obtaining a permit. As long as you meet the requirements, they have to issue you ("shall") an unrestricted permit.

Unrestricted does not mean that this is carte blanche to do whatever you want, meaning their are some restrictions especially pertaining to where you can carry. Some of these requirements include:

• No felony convictions;

• No convictions of certain misdemeanors within a three and eight year time frame;

• No diagnosed mental illness;

• Have not been dishonorably discharged from the military; and

• No convictions of domestic violence.

You also must complete a pistol safety training course that cover the laws relating to firearms, which includes fingerprinting and a background search.

CONCEALED PISTOL FREE ZONES

Individuals licensed to carry a concealed pistol by Michigan or another state are prohibited from carrying a concealed pistol on the following premises:

("Premises" does not include the parking areas of the places listed below, with listed exceptions.)

• Schools or school property (includes all property) but may carry while in a vehicle on school property while dropping off or picking up if a parent or legal guardian.

• Public or private day care center, public or private child caring agency, or public or private child placing agency.

• Sports arena or stadium

• A tavern where the primary source of income is the sale of alcoholic liquor by the glass consumed on the premises.

• Any property or facility owned or operated by a church, synagogue, mosque, temple, or other place of worship, unless the presiding official allows concealed weapons.

• An entertainment facility that the individual knows or should know has a (fixed) seating capacity of 2,500 or more.

• A hospital

• A dormitory or classroom of a community college, college, or university.

• A casino (Tribal casino includes all property)

Other places where firearms are prohibited include:

• Any courtroom, office or other space used for official court business or by judicial employees unless the chief judge or other person designated by the chief judge has given prior approval consistent with the court's written policy.

• Screening location and sterile areas of commercial airports.

• A fairgrounds under jurisdiction of the Michigan Dept. of Agriculture - State Fairs Division.

• A mental health facility.

• A jail, correctional facility or lockup.

• University of Michigan and Wayne State University, including all areas, property and parking lots. (Michigan State University follows state law; you can have a firearm on you and in your vehicle as long as you do not go into any building on campus if you have a valid permit/license to carry in Michigan.

• Federal buildings and property (Includes all areas, property & parking lots, excluding national parks.)

• All federal facilities (open or concealed) owned or leased by the federal government, even if you have a CPL. This is defined as a building or part thereof federal employees are regularly present for the purpose of performing their official duties. (For example: federal courts, post offices, IRS offices, social security offices, executive cabinet departments, federal prisons, Soo Locks, military bases, etc.)

NOTABLE EXCEPTIONS

• National Parks: People who can legally possess firearms under federal and state law can possess those firearms in the "national parks" in that state. So, if the state that you are in allows you to carry in the state park, you can carry in the national park.

However, you must be at least 18 years of age to hunt with (possess) a handgun, and handguns cannot be borrowed or loaned to another person other than provided for under the CPL. While in the field, handguns must be carried in plain view. Carrying a handgun in a holster in plain view is permitted.

You may transport your handguns while en route to and from your hunting or target shooting area; however, handguns, including BB guns larger than .177 caliber and all pellet guns, must be unloaded and in a closed case designed for the storage of firearms and cannot be readily accessible to any occupant of the vehicle.

(The rules listed above may not apply to those having a concealed pistol license or those specifically exempt by law from a CPL and carrying their handgun in accordance with their license or exemption.)

• Leaving in a vehicle to unlicensed person: Attorney General Opinion No. 7136, July 30, 2003, states: "A person licensed to carry a concealed pistol may lawfully occupy a motor vehicle in which a pistol has been left that belongs to another person who has exited the vehicle.

"A person who is not licensed to carry a concealed pistol may lawfully occupy a vehicle in which a pistol has been left that is lawfully contained and that belongs to another person who has exited the vehicle, only if the occupant is not carrying the weapon, a determination that depends on the facts of each case."

• Bow Hunting: A person with a valid concealed pistol license can possess a pistol during bow hunting, however, a concealed pistol license does not authorize the individual to use the pistol to take game except as provided by law.

• Exceptions during hunting season: During hunting season, a person may hunt on designated federal property and otherwise lawfully carry throughout non-excluded places. However, when it is not hunting season, this is likely criminal trespass and violation of the federal prohibition on carrying on federal lands, unless it is a national park or wildlife refuge and the state allows this as discussed above.

PREEMPTION LAW

The preemption law states that a local unit of government cannot ban the possession of firearms on municipal property. So, you can lawfully carry at a township hall, fire department, village park, etc.

MCL 123.1102, states: "A local unit of government shall not impose special taxation on, enact or enforce any ordinance or regulation pertaining to, or regulate in any other manner the ownership, registration, purchase, sale, transfer, or possession of pistols or other firearms, ammunition for pistols or other firearms or components of pistols or other firearms, except as otherwise provided by federal law or a law of this state."

MCL 123.1101 defines "local unit of government," as a city, township or county." This also applies to certain state government buildings as the state capitol and the Secretary of State offices.

Local units of government also have rights as employers. So, just as private employers can, they may regulate the conduct of their employees within the scope of employment, including conduct involving firearms. So, they can prohibit employees from the possession of firearms while in accordance with their municipal duties (ex: firefighter, road worker, clerk, etc.)

OPEN CARRY

This applies to the "open" carry of any legal firearm (pistol, long gun). Open carry is extended to any citizen who can lawfully possess a firearm. You will not find a law that states it is legal to open carry. It is legal because there is no Michigan law that prohibits it. Provided it is in a holster in plain view, or slung over the shoulder, no special permit is required. However, the state does have certain prohibitions where you cannot open carry.

• A depository financial institution or a subsidiary or affiliate of a depository financial institution.

• Church or other house of religious worship.

• Court

• Theatre

• Sports arena

• Day care center

• Hospital

• An establishment licensed under the Michigan liquor control act.

The kicker is that once an individual has a concealed pistol license, this voids these restrictions.

"This section does not apply to any of the following: A person licensed by this state or another state to carry a concealed weapon."

So, as discussed prior, you cannot carry a concealed pistol in a "sport arena" nor can you open carry in a "sports arena," however, if you have a concealed pistol license, you CAN open carry in a "sports arena."

PRIVATE PROPERTY AND EMPLOYER RIGHTS

Any private property owner can restrict the possession of firearms on their private property. It does not have to be posted. A private property owner has the right to prohibit concealed or open carry, regardless of whether the person is a CPL holder. A person who remains on the property may be charged with trespassing after refusal to comply when being asked by a peace officer upon direction of the property owner or agent of the property owner.

An employer can also restrict employees from carrying firearms while on their property in their course of their employment. The argument has been made that a person's vehicle is an extension of ones homestead, which would be exempt. There is no statute or case law that supports this.

Also, a college or university can restrict the possession of firearms on their property similar to a private property owner. This does not create a pistol free zone violation, but rather the same as a trespassing provision for noncompliance. However, if you don't follow the rules of a college or university, they can surely expel you.

This information is provided to you for clarification of specific laws and not legal advice. This is not to be construed as a personal opinion, agreement or disagreement of any specific law. If you have any questions on any specific topic, you can always email me your questions to rmartin@co.lake.mi.us.