The state of Michigan allows its residents to carry a handgun concealed on their person if they have obtained a concealed carry permit. Michigan is a “shall issue” state. This means that if you are over 21 years old, a US citizen or lawful alien, a Michigan resident, have taken a handgun safety course, and have not been found guilty of a felony or certain misdemeanors within 3-8 years, dependent on the charge, then you are able to obtain a concealed carry permit in the state of Michigan.
The laws are very specific where permit holders can and can not carry their handguns. Carrying a handgun is not allowed in school (both elementary and secondary), childcare institutions, hospitals, sports arenas or arenas with greater than a 2,500-person occupancy, bars/taverns, and places of worship unless otherwise posted. These rules apply to all civilians but not to law enforcement officers or retired officers.
Concealed carry laws have been around since the early 1800’s and it was not until the late 1990’s that states began issuing concealed carry permits. As of right now all 50 states have either “shall issue,” ‘may issue,” “no-issue,” or “unrestricted.” Michigan is a “shall issue” state meaning, the state will issue a license if the applicant meets all of the criteria for the license. The applicant does not have to show “good cause” for wanting to carry a concealed weapon, only pass the criteria to obtain a permit.
Concealed carry has been a controversial issue all over the country. There are groups that fully support the idea of private citizens carrying handguns and there are groups that are adamantly against it. Those that support concealed carry view it as a right backed up by the second amendment. Where as those in opposition say that the second amendment has limits and it does not permit concealed carry. Proponents of concealed carry say that carrying a handgun deters crime, while those who oppose say that it in fact increases crime. Those who oppose the law say that carrying a concealed weapon increases the chance of a confrontation turning lethal and that everyday disagreements can turn deadly in the blink of an eye.
Currently the state of Michigan gives out concealed carry permits on a “shall issue” basis through the Michigan State Police. As of right now there is no indication that the ability to get a permit is going to end. The US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in December of 2012 that the state of Illinois ban on carrying a concealed weapon in public was unconstitutional, making additional constitutional challenges unlikely to succeed. Michigan House Bill 5301, sponsored by Representative Chatfield of the Michigan 107th, would allow Michigan residents to carry a concealed weapon without a license. This type of concealed carry law is known as “constitutional carry.” This very controversial plan would take away the application process for obtaining a concealed carry permit and allow residents to just carry concealed weapons whenever they wanted. Doing away with the application process would remove the necessity for a background check but all previous disqualifiers would remain. There are only six other states that have “constitutional carry” with a select few working on similar laws.
Currently in Michigan it is legal to open carry (have the handgun in plain view with nothing covering it) anywhere that is not a pistol free zone. Proponents of HB 5301 argue that it is nonsense that people have to go through the trouble to get a permit just to put a jacket over their handgun. House bill 5301 was introduced on February 2, 2016 and was referred to the committee on the Judiciary. The chances of HB 5301 passing out of the House Judiciary committee are high but there is no indication of how much support there will be in the full House or Senate. As of March 28, 2016 there has been no new movement on HB 5301.
There has been positive movement on two other bills related to concealed carry, SB 442 and SB 561, which have been recommended by the Senate committee on the Judiciary for immediate effect. Senate Bills, 442 and 561 tackle the issue of carrying a concealed weapon in a “non-carry zone” and “weapon-free school zones.” These bills would allow concealed carry permit holders to apply for an exemption that would allow them to carry their concealed handguns in “no-carry zones.” These “no-carry zones” include schools, day care centers, arenas with a capacity of more than 2,500 people, houses of worship, premises that have a liquor license but not including bars/taverns, financial institutions, courts, theaters, and hospitals. The two bills are tied together with 561 implementing the changes and 442 providing the means for county clerks to process the exemption paperwork and receive the funding from the paperwork application fees. Both bills passed out the judiciary committee in mid October of 2015 and now await a vote by the full Senate. In 2012 Governor Snyder vetoed similar legislation but it is unknown if he would also veto these bills if they are backed by both the House and Senate.
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