Is Michigan an open carry gun state?

A handgun in holster (WDIV)

We received this question about Michigan through our 4YI form, where you can ask us anything about Michigan and/or Metro Detroit and we will do our best to get back with an answer(s).


“Is Michigan an open carry state?” -- Edward


Yes. Michigan is an open carry state because there is no law that says it is illegal to do so. Make sense?

Let’s take a closer look at what that means -- the Michigan State Police describe Michigan’s open carry law as follows:

"In Michigan, it is legal for a person to carry a firearm in public as long as the person is carrying the firearm with lawful intent and the firearm is not concealed. You will not find a law that states it is legal to openly carry a firearm. It is legal because there is no Michigan law that prohibits it; however, Michigan law limits the premises on which a person may carry a firearm."

As far as pistols go, any law-abiding citizen of the state of Michigan who is at least 18 years old, and who owns a legally registered handgun (pistol), may openly carry -- in a visible holster by law with or without a concealed pistol license (CPL).

However, if you don’t have a CPL, you can’t open carry in certain prohibited premises. Here are those prohibited premises:

  • A depository financial institution or a subsidiary or affiliate of a depository financial institution.
  • Schools or school property but may carry while in a vehicle on school property while dropping off or picking up if a parent or legal guardian
  • Public or private day care center, public or private child caring agency, or public or private child placing agency.
  • Sports arena or stadium
  • A tavern where the primary source of income is the sale of alcoholic liquor by the glass consumed on the premises
  • Any property or facility owned or operated by a church, synagogue, mosque, temple, or other place of worship, unless the presiding official or officials allow concealed weapons
  • An entertainment facility that the individual knows or should know has a seating capacity of 2,500 or more
  • A hospital
  • A dormitory or classroom of a community college, college, or university
  • A Casino
  • Source: MCL 750.234d of the Michigan Penal Code

If you do have a CPL, you may carry a non-concealed firearm in some of the above listed premises -- and emphasis on non-concealed. It’s important to note a CPL holder is not required by law to carry a pistol concealed. A CPL holder may carry a pistol concealed or non-concealed, but they must carry it non-concealed in the places listed above.

  • You really need to go through this state of Michigan document if you want to review where CPL holders can carry concealed or non-concealed pistols. You’ll see more about where CPL holders can carry, whether concealed or non-concealed, and who is exempt and why.

Those prohibited premises are actually printed on the back of Michigan CPL holder cards:

Michigan CPL holder card (WDIV)

To be clear: A person without a CPL can legally open carry a pistol as long as the pistol they are carrying has been lawfully purchased and is registered in their name and they are at least 18 years of age. Without a CPL, you are not allowed to carry a firearm that belongs to and is registered to someone other than yourself. See MCL 750.234d of the Michigan Penal Code.

Another note: A private property owner has the right to prohibit individuals from carrying firearms on his or her property, whether concealed or otherwise, and regardless of whether the person is a CPL holder. If a person remains on the property after being told to leave by the owner, the person may be charged with trespassing.

Furthermore, Michigan schools are allowed to make their own rules about guns. The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled school districts are allowed to ban guns from their buildings and ask anyone with a gun to leave. Trespassing charges can be pursued if the person does not leave the school when asked.

Different laws for carrying gun in vehicles

Michigan also has specific laws for carrying guns in vehicles. I wrote all about this back in my “Understanding Michigan’s gun laws -- not as straightforward as you might think” piece a couple of years back.

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