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Open Carry is the Law in Michigan: MCRGO Frequently Asked Gun Owner Questions

Michigan Coalition For Responsible Gun Owners

Michigan Coalition For Responsible Gun Owners

Q: What is the MCL number for a person being able to openly carry a gun in Michigan?

A: Your question refers to the Michigan Compiled Laws numbering system. All of Michigan’s statutes are available online at They are organized in a numbering system and all of them begin with “MCL.”

The answer is that the right to carry a gun openly is not actually part of the MCL system. Rather, it is laid out in Article I, Section 6 of the Michigan Constitution, which states: “Every person has a right to keep and bear arms for the defense of himself and the state.” This clause is more clearly worded than the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Because the Michigan provision, adopted almost two centuries after the adoption of the US Constitution, uses the phrase, “defense of himself,” there has never been the level of debate regarding whether the right was an individual right that there was regarding the Second Amendment. For many years during the 20th Century, there was confusion in some jurisdictions brought on by a misunderstanding of the term “Militia” in the Second Amendment. That confusion was cleared up, for the most part, by the US Supreme Court’s decision in the Heller case recently.

For quite some time in Michigan, local units of government attempted to restrict the right to bear arms by passing local ordinances purporting to prohibit open carry. These laws were rendered void in 1990 with the enactment of MCL 123.1102, which became effective in March of 1991 and 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, transportation, 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.” This means that the Michigan Constitution, and state statutes, control firearms in Michigan and no city, township, or county can make its own gun laws.

There is another concept in law called the Rule of Lenity, which stands for the proposition that whatever is not prohibited by law is allowed. So, the constitutional right, combined with no state statute prohibiting open carry means that open carry is lawful.

If the gun is concealed, it is subject to the crime of carrying a concealed weapon, commonly referred to as “CCW,” which specifies a prison term of up to five years for carrying a concealed weapon without a license. The only concealed weapon for which a license is available in Michigan is a pistol. So, someone who has a Concealed Pistol License (CPL) may conceal a pistol and not be guilty of the crime of “CCW.”

Open carry is the answer when a CPL holder inadvertently exposes his pistol. As long as he is in a place where he, and his pistol are allowed to be, and he is not threatening a fellow citizen without justification, the fact that the pistol was momentarily unconcealed is of no legal consequence.

Steve Dulan ( is a member of the Board of Directors of the MCRGO and the MCRGO Foundation, and a member of the Board of Trustees of the MCRGO Foundation. He is an attorney in private practice in East Lansing and Adjunct Professor of firearms law at The Thomas M. Cooley Law School. as well as an NRA Life Member.

The Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners is a non-profit, non-partisan organization. Formed from just eight people in 1996, we now have thousands of members and numerous affiliated clubs across the state. We’re growing larger and more effective every day.

Our mission statement is: “Promoting safe use and ownership of firearms through education, litigation, and legislation” Visit:

  • 20 User comments to “Open Carry is the Law in Michigan: MCRGO Frequently Asked Gun Owner Questions”

    1. UCC1-308 on January 12, 2010 at 6:50 PM said:

      Section 750.227
      Act 328 of 1931
      750.227 Concealed weapons; carrying; penalty.
      Sec. 227.
      (1) A person shall not carry a dagger, dirk, stiletto, a double-edged nonfolding stabbing instrument of any length, or any other dangerous weapon, except a hunting knife adapted and carried as such, concealed on or about his or her person, or whether concealed or otherwise in any vehicle operated or occupied by the person, except in his or her dwelling house, place of business or on other land possessed by the person.

    2. UCC1-308 on January 12, 2010 at 6:50 PM said:

      2) A person shall not carry a pistol concealed on or about his or her person, or, whether concealed or otherwise, in a vehicle operated or occupied by the person, except in his or her dwelling house, place of business, or on other land possessed by the person, without a license to carry the pistol as provided by law and if licensed, shall not carry the pistol in a place or manner inconsistent with any restrictions upon such license.

    3. UCC1-308 on January 12, 2010 at 6:51 PM said:

      (3) A person who violates this section is guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years, or by a fine of not more than $2,500.00.

    4. UCC1-308 on January 12, 2010 at 6:58 PM said:
      NO. 66
      JUNE 16, 2008
      This update is published by the Michigan State Police Executive Division. Questions and comments may be directed to Past editions can be found at
      Firearms-related frequently raised issues
      What follows are the short answers to those firearms-related questions most often asked by police officers and the public.

      Open carry of firearms
      Subject to MCL 750.234d, it is legal to carry a visible pistol in public.
      Possession of a pistol belonging to another.

      Per MCL 28.432, a person with a Concealed Pistol License (CPL) may legally possess a properly registered pistol belonging to another. The owner need not be present.

    5. UCC1-308 on January 12, 2010 at 7:01 PM said:

      KNOW THIS AND USE THIS. I keep a copy of this in my wallet and any thing I sign I put this (BEFORE) my siginture.

      UCC 1-308~ (a) A party that with explicit reservation of rights performs or promises performance or assents to performance in a manner demanded or offered by the other party does not thereby prejudice the rights reserved. Such words as “without prejudice,” “under protest,” or the like are sufficient.
      (b) Subsection (a) does not apply to an accord and satisfaction.

      UCC EXPLAINED if you have to use it in court or other places
      KNOW THIS!
      UCC 1-308 = “I reserve my right not to be compelled to perform under any contract or commercial agreement that I did not enter knowingly, voluntarily and intentionally. I do not accept the liability of the compelled benefit of any unrevealed contract or commercial agreement.”

    6. mark Sciacca on January 13, 2010 at 10:15 PM said:

      What are the laws to open carry in Michigan? Are the same as a cpl laws? Can someone make it as easy as 1 2 3 to explain to me.
      Thank you.

    7. If you are open carring without a CPL how do you handle when you get pulled over by law enforcement?

    8. Kim Peltier on April 11, 2010 at 10:01 AM said:

      What are the laws to open carry in Michigan? Are the same as a cpl laws? Can someone make it as easy as 1 2 3 to explain to me.
      I didn’t see a responce to the other persons question. It would be mice to know the laws. Every one I ask tell me they don’t know

      Thank You

    9. john little on June 30, 2010 at 6:16 PM said:

      if you, legally, own a hand gun, then you may carry it openly in the state of mich.
      carry on you the proper paper work of ownership cause the police will be called on you. although you have the right not to show ID or answer questions the officers ask you, my advice is to comply and answer question and show your ID. it will be best in long run.

    10. Tracy on July 4, 2010 at 3:34 PM said:

      can u carry your purchase permit outside.

    11. I am a private security guard, can i leagaly open carry my firearm while on duty with the property owners permission? i was told by someone that under an act made by the state that you had to have a CPL as a security guard? is that true? Thank You! =)

    12. i was arrested by detroit police officers for ccw after i showed them my ccw license. they said that they revoked july 2010 and i was approved on sept 8 2010 alon with my letter of approval and ccw license i was later released after my girlfriend brought my letter of appoval to the the police station a few hours later pending investigation i was woundering if i have a good lawsuit for the arrest and what measures should i take?

    13. Ray…chill…don’t mess with the cops…not only will they take your approved CCW license permently…they may get a warrant to search your house…take anything they want…your gun collection…your knife collection…your gold watch…and harrass you on the street and in your car for years…I have been there did that, and had all I have said to you done to me…if I need a cop now…damned if I will call them.

    14. I have a CPL. I read on one site that I can carry openly anywhere (no gun free zones) and read on other sites that I have to conform to the Gun Free Zones when carrying openly as I do when carrying concealed. Can someone please clear this up for me and maybe point me to the legislation that explains this.

    15. Can my wife open carry a gun I own while walking in a rural area for self protection against un-restrained dogs?

    16. if you had a prior misdemeanor but it was expunged can you still open carry?

    17. max138, if you have a CPL you can openly carry a holstered handgun anywhere in the state of michigan. period. this includes bars, sports arenas, child care centers, school property, and all other pistol free zones. if you do not have a CPL, you can openly carry but you have to be on foot and there’s a list of places you can’t go. here is a MSP law update that clears the subject right up.

    18. mark watson on December 1, 2011 at 3:02 PM said:

      Is it leagle to transpot a hand gun I leaglly own in the backseat of my truck if it is unloaded and locked in a case.

    19. can i open carry and have my gun loaded i have heard two different things can someone help me out?

    20. Is self defence a lawful purpose to transport a firearm.

      Can a person without a cpl transport a firearm with intent to open carry,
      to a location that is not listed under Michigan state law as an exaple of
      lawful purpose?

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