Michigan: Your State Firearms Laws

(as of March 1994)

Please Note: In addition to state laws, the purchase, sale and (in certain circumstances) the possession and interstate transportation of firearms is regulated by the Gun Control Act of 1968, as amended by the Firearm Owners' Protection Act. Also, cities and localities may have their own firearms ordinances in addition to federal and state laws. Details may be obtained by contacting local law enforcement authorities, and by consulting the ``State Laws and Published Ordinances--Firearms'', available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C. 20402.

Quick Reference Chart

                          Rifles and
                          Shotguns     Handguns
Permit to Purchase           No         Yes
Registration of Firearm      No         Yes
Licensing of Owner           No         No
Permit to Carry              No         Yes

State Constitutional Provision on Firearms

``Every person has a right to keep and bear arms for the defense of himself and the state.'' Article I, Section 6.


No state permit is required to possess a rifle or shotgun.

Every person within the state who owns or obtains a handgun, in any manner, must present the handgun to either the city chief of police or the county sheriff of the locality where he resides. A certificate of inspection will then be issued containing a description of the handgun inspected and the name, description and thumbprint of the possessor.

It is unlawful to possess a firearm in a financial institution, church, court, school, hospital, theatre, sports arena, or day care center unless licensed or with permission of the owner or agent.


No permit is required for the purchase of a rifle or shotgun.

No rifle, shotgun, or handgun may be sold to a minor under 18 years of age, a convicted felon, or a person under indictment.

To purchase a handgun from either a dealer or private individual, the buyer must obtain a license to purchase from the chief of police if the buyer lives in a city, or the county sheriff if he lives in an area without an organized police department.

The buyer must be 18 years of age, a U.S. citizen, a resident of Michigan, have no felony conviction, have never been adjudged insane (unless later restored by court order), and score 70% on a basic pistol safety review questionnaire.

The license to purchase must be filled out in triplicate at the time of purchase. The license shall include a description of the handgun sold and the and the signatures of both the buyer and seller. The seller may retain one copy and the buyer retains the other two. After purchase and delivery of the handgun is completed, the buyer must return the license to purchase along with the purchased handgun, unloaded and encased or trigger locked, to the local licensing (law enforcement) authority within 10 days.

The buyer (licensee) will then be issued a Safety Inspection Certificate (registration) for the handgun. One copy of the license will be held by the local authority for six years and the remaining copy shall be forwarded to the Commissioner of State Police.

The license, once issued, becomes void if not used within ten days.


It is unlawful to carry a handgun concealed on or about one's person or concealed or openly in a vehicle without a license.

Exceptions: No license is required when:

  1. Carrying a pistol unloaded and in a container in a trunk of a vehicle while in possession of a valid Michigan hunting license or proof of valid membership in an organization having pistol shooting range facilities and while going to or from a hunting or target shooting area.
  2. If the vehicle has no trunk, the handgun in the container should ``not be readily accessible to the occupants of the vehicle.''
  3. Carrying a pistol unloaded and in a container in the trunk of a vehicle from the place of purchase to one's home or place of business, to and from a place of repair, or in moving from one residence or business place to another.
  4. Carrying in one's dwelling house or place of business or on one's own land.
  5. Carrying an antique firearm, unloaded and in a container in the trunk of a vehicle, while going to or from a hunting or target shooting area or an exhibition or demonstration of antique firearms.
  6. A person is licensed to carry a handgun in another state.
  7. A person is a law enforcement officer.
In order to transport or possess rifles and shotguns in a motor vehicle, Michigan law requires that they be unloaded and be one or more of the following: broken down, enclosed in a case, carried in the trunk of the vehicle, or inaccessible from the interior of the vehicle.

License to Carry

An application for a license to carry must be notarized and include the signatures of two references, a letter from the applicant's employer, and a set of the applicant's fingerprints.

The applicant must submit the completed forms to the chief of police or the township supervisor for his approval and then forward the forms to the county clerk.

Final approval must be obtained from the Concealed Weapons Licensing Board, which will direct the county clerk to issue the license if it determines that the applicant meets all the requirements.

The applicant must be at least 18 years of age, a U.S. citizen, a resident of Michigan for more than six months, have ``good reason to fear injury to his person or property'' or ``other proper reasons,'' be ``a suitable person to be so licensed,'' have no felony convictions within the past eight years, and have never been adjudged insane unless subsequently restored by court order.

The Concealed Weapons Licensing Board determines how long the license will be valid, but it can be no longer than three years. The fee for the license is $10.00.

There are two types of licenses issued: one is restricted and lists the purposes, circumstances, times or places in which the license is valid; the other is a general license with no restrictions.

Antiques and Replicas

Handguns ``kept solely for the purpose of display, as relics, curios, or antiques not made for modern ammunition or permanently deactivated'' are exempt from the registration and sale provisions.

An antique firearm is defined as:

``(a) A firearm not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional centerfire ignition with fixed ammunition and manufactured in or before 1898, including a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system or replica thereof, whether actually manufactured before or after the year 1898. (b) A firearm using fixed ammunition manufactured in or before 1898, for which ammunition is no longer manufactured in in the United States and is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade.''

Machine Guns

It is unlawful to sell, offer for sale, possess or manufacture any machine gun ``which shoots or is designed to shoot automatically more than one shot without manual reloading by a single function of the trigger.''

Exceptions are for manufacturers with government contracts and any person duly licensed to manufacture, sell, or possess any machine gun by federal law.

Miscellaneous Provisions

Michigan provides a two-year mandatory prison term for any felony committed by a person carrying or possessing a firearm. This sentence is in addition to the sentence imposed for committing the felony and must be served consecutively. The person subject to this provision ``shall not be eligible for parole or probation during the mandatory term.''

It is unlawful to willfully alter, remove, or obliterate the serial number, maker's name, or ``other mark of identity'' on any firearm.

It is unlawful to intentionally point, even without malice, any firearm at another person.

It is unlawful to set any spring gun or other device ``operating by the firing of gunpowder or any other explosive.''

It is unlawful to possess or use any firearm while under the influence of liquor or any ``exhilarating or stupifying drug.''

It is unlawful to ``recklessly or heedlessly or willfully or wantonly use, carry, handle or discharge any firearm without due caution and circumspection for the rights, safety or property of others.''

Pellet guns are considered firearms in Michigan and thus are regulated by the above provisions. A pellet gun must be registered and requires a license to purchase. In addition, a license to carry must be obtained to carry concealed or in a vehicle; if it has no serial number, the gun must be taken to the State Police who will stamp a number on the weapon.

No person under 18 years of age may possess or use a BB gun beyond the yard of his home unless accompanied by a person over 18.

Units of local government are prohibited from imposing certain restrictions on firearms and ammunition.

Theft of a firearm must be reported to police within 5 days after discovery.

Caution: State firearms laws are subject to frequent change. The above summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law. To determine the applicability of these laws to specific situations which you may encounter, you are strongly urged to consult a local attorney.

   (c)  1994, NRA Institute for Legislative Action.
                Permission to reprint 
   granted with appropriate credit to NRA Institute.

NS 01180                                 R. 3/94 5M