Police Encounters When Carrying a Gun
Aug. 30, 2023
If you carry a firearm in Michigan, it’s essential that you know and fully understand Michigan’s gun laws. Knowing the laws can be invaluable if you have an encounter with police while you are carrying a firearm. If issues arise, it’s also important to seek advice and representation from an attorney. If you need help after an encounter with law enforcement while carrying a firearm, call me, Ian Redmond, at Redmond Law Group in Troy, Michigan. I can help you understand your gun rights and represent you if you’ve had an encounter with the police.
The Right to Bear Arms: Understanding Gun Ownership in Michigan
In Michigan, you can own and openly carry a gun if you are 18 years of age or older. With a license, you can purchase a handgun from a private seller, but you must be 21 or older to purchase a handgun from a federally-licensed dealer. You can purchase a long gun (such as a rifle or shotgun) without a permit at 18.
If you do not have a concealed pistol license, handguns must be carried in plain view. You can apply for a concealed pistol license (CPL) if you meet certain requirements. All CPL applicants must undergo state-approved firearms training. You cannot carry a concealed long gun such as a rifle or shotgun.
Know Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Gun Owner
Restrictions on Open Carry
You cannot open carry in some premises, including:
Places of religious worship
You can open carry in these areas (except courts) if you have a CPL. An exception also applies if you are working as a peace officer or as security for these establishments.
CPL Prohibited Premises
If you have a CPL, Michigan concealed carry regulations prohibit you from carrying a concealed firearm in gun-free zones, including:
Places of religious worship (unless permitted by the presiding official)
Any entertainment complex with seating capacity of more than 2,500 people
Dormitories or classrooms on college/university campuses
Other laws prohibit concealed carrying in some other places, including airports (unless checking a firearm and the firearm is legal at your final destination), Amtrak stations, private property where the property owner has banned firearms from the premises, and Indian reservations. Carrying a gun in federal facilities is also prohibited.
Preparing for an Interaction With Law Enforcement
It is extremely important to make sure you know the Michigan and federal gun laws inside and out. Memorize the above lists of prohibited premises and understand that Michigan is a “Duty to Inform” state. This means that if you are stopped by a police officer and you are carrying a concealed weapon with a CPL, you must tell them that you have a firearm.
How to Handle a Police Stop With a Firearm
Interacting with police while carrying a gun can be a daunting prospect, but you should have nothing to fear if you can communicate to law enforcement that you are not a threat. You should always comply with police instructions while armed.
An admission that you are carrying a firearm effectively waives your Fourth Amendment rights. This means that a police officer can disarm you and search you (and your vehicle in a traffic stop) to make sure that you do not pose a threat to yourself or others. Whether or not you are searched, and the ultimate outcome, can depend upon your demeanor. You should never use strong language with or threaten a police officer, no matter how unfair you find the situation.
The officer may ask questions to judge your mental state. If they ask why you are carrying a weapon or concealed weapon and you are legally carrying it, calmly explain that it is your right under Michigan law. If you remain emotionally level and follow instructions, the search will most likely end with the police officer returning your firearm.
Refrain from punishable activity (for example, driving recklessly) while you are carrying a weapon. A police officer is likely to see any weapon as a threat, especially if the person carrying it is not on their best behavior in the first place.
Your Right to Legal Representation
If you feel you have been treated unfairly by law enforcement during a police stop in Michigan, I can discuss your options with you and represent you if you have a case. I can also make sure you completely understand your gun rights and responsibilities so that you can feel secure in the event of any future police stops with a firearm. Call me at Redmond Law Group, serving Troy, Michigan, as well as areas throughout Oakland and Maycomb counties.