In Michigan, 18-year-olds can buy guns, but not beers

A quick look at Michigan’s gun laws

FILE - In this July 20, 2012, photo, a row of different AR-15 style rifles are displayed for sale at the Firing-Line indoor range and gun shop in Aurora, Colo. A warning about possible violence last year involving the 18-year-old now being held in the Buffalo, New York, supermarket shooting is turning attention to New York's "red flag" law. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) (Alex Brandon, AP2012)

In the state of Michigan, an 18-year-old cannot buy alcohol, but they can buy multiple types of guns, including semiautomatic rifles, in most cases.

In Michigan, if you’re at least 18 years old, it is legal to buy a pistol with a purchase license from a private seller. At age 21 it is legal to buy a firearm from a federally licensed (FFL) dealer. No purchase license is required to purchase a long gun -- a firearm that is more than 26 inches long -- in Michigan.

According to state law, a long gun may be purchased by anyone aged 18 or older who is not subject to restrictions based on criminal history, mental health history, or other disqualifying factor. A person must be at least 18 years old to purchase a long gun from a federal dealer or a private seller under Michigan law.

Michigan law also states that private citizens can sell their long guns to another private citizen without a background check. This type of purchase does not require the purchase to be registered with the state or federal government. Michigan has no waiting period for purchasing a firearm.

More: A look at Michigan’s somewhat confusing gun laws

This is the same in many U.S. states, which abide by the federal law, the Gun Control Act of 1968, which was passed after the assassinations of President John Kennedy, Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It established that shotguns and rifles, and ammunition for shotguns or rifles may be sold only to individuals 18 years of age or older. All firearms other than shotguns and rifles, and all ammunition other than ammunition for shotguns or rifles may be sold only to individuals 21 years of age or older. Licensees are bound by the minimum age requirements established by the GCA regardless of state or local law.

However, if state law or local ordinances establish a higher minimum age for the purchase or disposition of firearms, the licensee must observe the higher age requirement. Michigan hasn’t moved on this.

Other states, like Florida, California, Illinois, Hawaii and and Vermont, have increased the age limit to 21 for all gun purchases.

These guns are illegal to buy in Michigan:

  • Machine gun or firearm that shoots or is designed to shoot automatically more than 1 shot without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger
  • Muffler or silencer
  • Short-barreled shotgun (except as permitted by federal law)
  • Short-barreled rifle (except as permitted by federal law)
  • Armor-piercing ammunition
  • A device that is designed or intended to be used to convert a semiautomatic firearm into a fully automatic firearm

According to Everytown, firearms are the leading cause of death for children and teens, and the firearm suicide rate among young people has spiked 59% in the last decade. People ages 18 to 20 commit 18% of all gun homicides, while making up only 4% of the US population. More than 2,100 children and teens die by gun homicide every year. Black children and teens are 14 times more likely than white children and teens of the same age to die by gun homicide.

Related: How easy is it to buy guns in other countries compared to US?

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.