Open Carry of a Pistol as it Applies to Michigan Gun Owners

Open Carry of a Pistol as it Applies to Michigan Gun Owners
by Daniel Bambery

Michigan Coalition For Responsible Gun Owners
Michigan Coalition For Responsible Gun Owners

Michigan – -( Open carry of a pistol is best described as what it isn’t. It is not concealed. Some courts have described open carry as visible or open to observation. Carrying a pistol in a holster outside clothing uncovered by coat or shirt is clearly open carry. Certain people are forbidden to even own firearms, but that is an issue for another day.

There is no blanket prohibition on the carrying of a pistol by a person who can legally own a pistol. Therefore we have to look at what types of carrying of a pistol are forbidden. It is a crime to…

1. carry a concealed pistol except in your own dwelling house, place of business, or on other land possessed by you without a concealed pistol license (CPL).
2. carry a pistol in the passenger compartment of a vehicle, whether or not concealed, without a CPL.
3. carry a pistol in certain places without permission or CPL, unless you are a LEO (a depository financial institution, a church or other house of religious worship, a court, a theatre, a sports arena, a day care center, a hospital, an establishment licensed under the Michigan liquor control act).
4. carry a pistol with unlawful intent.
5. carry a pistol while bow hunting without a CPL.
6. carry a pistol while less than 18 years old unless hunting or at a shooting range.
7. carry a pistol while intoxicated.
8. carry a pistol in any area frequented by wild animals without a hunting license or CPL.
9. carry a firearm while working as a volunteer conservation officer.

If a person has a CPL s/he is allowed to carry everywhere in Michigan without violating the criminal law. A person with a CPL does not forfeit their right to ‘open carry’ where appropriate. However there are certain places a person with a CPL cannot carry without violating the restrictions of the CPL and committing a civil infraction. (A second offense is a misdemeanor.) There are limited exceptions such as law enforcement officers (LEO’s) and retired judges. These are the “Pistol Free Zones”:

1. A school or school property except that a parent or legal guardian of a student of the school is not precluded from carrying a concealed pistol while in a vehicle on school property, if he or she is dropping the student off at the school or picking up the child from the school.
2. A public or private child care center or day care center, public or private child caring institution, or public or private child placing agency.
3. A sports arena or stadium.
4. A bar or tavern that gets 50% of its income from the sale liquor by the glass unless an owner or employee of the business.
5. Any property or facility owned or operated by a place of worship, without permission.
6. An entertainment facility with a seating capacity of 2,500 or more.
7. A hospital.
8. A dormitory or classroom of a community college, college, or university.
9. A casino.

Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University were all established by the Michigan Constitution and given some legislative powers. They have all forbidden the possession of firearms on their campuses. MSU allows CPL holders to carry in the open areas of the campus. Violations of these rules are punishable as violations of university rules and can result in heavy sanctions for students and employees and barring from the campus for others.

All courts in Michigan are required by the Michigan Supreme Court to have a “Court Security Plan”. Most courts forbid the carrying of weapons by anyone not a LEO. Violations of these prohibitions are neither crimes nor civil violations but are punishable as contempt of court.

A private person can set their own rules for people on their property. If a private property owner (not a government of public agency) forbids the possession of weapons on their property, violation of that rule is punished under the trespass statute. A person must be asked (told) to leave before any legal consequences can attach.

Occasionally a state regulated business is required by the state to forbid the possession of firearms. Casinos must not allow anyone, even their own security personnel, other than LEO’s and armored car guards to carry a firearm on their premises. A person attempting open carry at a casino would be ejected. It is the interplay between these rules that is often confusing. For example, a person without a CPL cannot open carry in a sports arena; and, commits a crime if he/she does so. While a person with a CPL is also forbidden to carry in a sports arena but only commits a civil infraction if s/he does so.

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”


Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Dom Cruce

What is a cpl and if you have a cpl does this allow you to carry in auto. For example on your lap while driving or in glove box?


Is there a violation of the law if a CPL holder carries a pistol in a pocket, such as a back pocket inside a pocket holster, and part or all of the grip is visible?


How do AG Opinions 7097 and 7101 apply to the legality of a CPL holder open carrying in a “Pistol Free Zone”? I’ve seen much discussion that these opinions allow a CPL holder to open carry in a PFZ legally. What is MCRGO’s opinion of this?

Adam florkowski

is michigan an open carry state yes or no, if so what are the laws and were im i allowed to open carry. I was wondering this because i have my ccw or cpl and i was unclear about open carry laws in michigan