What are Pistol-Free Zones?

Criminal Law

In response to the terrorist attacks in the United States and in Europe, many Michiganders are obtaining concealed pistol licenses. However, it’s important to understand that Michigan law limits where a concealed pistol or taser can be carried. Generally speaking, in Michigan, a person who has a concealed pistol license is prohibited from carrying a concealed pistol or taser on the following premises:

  • Schools or school property. This does not apply to a parent or guardian of a student who remains in a vehicle and is picking up or dropping off the student;
  • Public or private day care center, child caring agency, or child placing agency;
  • Sports arena or stadium;
  • A bar or tavern where the primary source of income is the sale of alcoholic liquor by the glass and consumed on the premises. This does not apply to the bar owner or an employee;
  • Any property or facility owned or operated by a church, synagogue, mosque, temple, or other place of worship. This does not apply if the presiding official or officials allow concealed weapons on the property;
  • An entertainment facility that has a seating capacity of 2,500 or more. The statute provides for the posting of a sign above the entrance informing the public that the seating capacity is 2,500 or more;
  • A hospital;
  • A dormitory or classroom of a community college, college, or university;
  • A casino. Casino parking lots are also prohibited; and
  • Courtroom, office, or other space used for official court business or by judicial employees unless the chief judge or other person designated by the chief judge has given prior approval consistent with the court’s written policy. Administrative Order 2001-1 of the Michigan Supreme Court.

Except for casinos, the prohibition against carrying a concealed pistol or taser does not included the parking lots of the pistol-free zones or prohibited property.

The following persons are permitted to carry a concealed pistol or taser in pistol-free zones or on prohibited premises:

  • Retired police officer, law-enforcement officer, or federal law-enforcement officer;
  • A security employee of the premises who is required by the employer to carry a concealed pistol or taser;
  • A licensed private investigator or detective;
  • A county corrections officer or retired county corrections officer if the individual received county sheriff weapons approved training;
  • Motor carrier officer or capital security officer of the department of state police;
  • Member of the sheriff’s posse;
  • Auxiliary or reserve officer of a police or sheriff’s department;
  • Parole, probation, corrections officer, or absconder recovery unit member of the department of corrections if the individual has obtained a Michigan department of corrections weapons permit;
  • A state court judge or retired judge; and
  • A court officer.

The penalties for carrying a concealed pistol or taser in a pistol-free zone or on prohibited premises are as follows:

  • First offense: civil infraction, up to $500 fine, concealed pistol license suspended for 6 months;
  • Second offense: misdemeanor, up to 90 days jail, up to $1,000 fine, concealed pistol license revoked;
  • Third or subsequent offense: felony, up to four years prison, up to $5,000 fine, concealed pistol license revoked. The person is also at risk for the crime of possessing a firearm while committing a felony (felony firearm), which requires 2 years imprisonment to be served consecutive and before any sentence for the underlying offense.

Involvement in any of the offenses listed above results in seizure and forfeiture of the firearm.

Please refer to MCL 28.425o for the complete statutory text.

So, if you think about the circumstances of the terror attacks in the United States and around the world, if Michigan law applied in those jurisdictions, concealed pistols would have been prohibited in those locations. The Aurora, Colorado attack occurred in an entertainment facility that probably seated more than 2,500 people. Our local Celebration Cinema theater seats more than 2,500 people and has a sign posted at the entrance. The San Bernardino, California attack occurred at a child-placing agency. The Paris attacks occurred at an entertainment facility, a bar, and a sports arena.

There is currently an effort to eliminate open-carry laws and pistol-free zones in Michigan, and two bills, Mike Green’s SB 442 and Arlan Meekhof’s SB 0561, have been approved by the Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee. If passed, these Bills would work together to (1) eliminate the current common-law right to open-carry a firearm in a pistol-free zone or on prohibited premises, and (2) eliminate those pistol-free zones or prohibited premises for persons who hold a concealed pistol license. In my view, these Bills make sense because persons who hold a concealed pistol license are vetted to ensure that the licensee isn’t a criminal or mentally ill and are trained to safely handle the firearm.

Jeff and Kymberly Schroder are criminal defense attorneys with more than 28 years combined experience in handling crimes involving firearms. Both Kymberly and I are proud firearms enthusiasts, and I am a member of the National Rifle Association and the Kalamazoo Rod and Gun Club. If you have questions about your firearms rights or Michigan’s firearms laws, or if you have been charged with a civil infraction or a crime involving a firearm, we will be more than happy to speak with you about your question or your case.

Jeffrey M. Schroder

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