Thursday, November 27, 2008

Michigan Concealed Pistol License: Pistol-Free Zones

Individuals with state of Michigan issued Concealed Pistol Licenses (CPLs) and people with CPLs from other states that have reciprocity with Michigan are authorized to carry concealed pistols on or about their person in our state. However, the law - Public Act 381 of 2000 - specifies certain places (i.e. Pistol Free Zones) where a pistol can not be possessed unless the person has an unrestricted CPL.

Most individuals applying for a Michigan Concealed Pistol License will NOT be issued an unrestricted permit. By statute, only the following classes of persons are eligible for an unrestricted license:

  • State of Michigan Licensed Private Investigators
  • Retired Law Enforcement Officers
  • County Sheriff's Corrections Officers
  • State Police Motor Carrier Officers
  • State Police Capitol Security Officers
  • Sheriff's Posse Members
  • Police Reserve Officers
  • Parole and Probation Officers


Furthermore, it should be noted that owners of Pistol-Free Zones and their specified employees, who provide security services, can carry concealed pistols on those premises if they have CPLs.

State of Michigan Pistol-Free Zones

1. Bars
The Michigan statute very clumsily defines a bar as a place where the primary source of income of the business is the sale of alcoholic liquor by the glass and consumed on the premises.

Obviously, patrons of a particular venue, that serves alcoholic beverages, would not know how much of that business' revenue is generated by the sale of liquor by the glass. However, the general rule is that a CPL holder can carry in a "real" restaurant that also serves alcohol but not in a bar that also serves food.

As an illustration, it is generally considered OK to carry in places like in the following list: Chili's, Fridays, Ruby Tuesday, and the Olive Garden.

2. Large Entertainment Facilities
The statute, once again clumsily tries to define a Pistol-Free Zone. In this case, a facility with a seating capacity of 2,500 or more individuals that the individual knows or should know has a seating capacity of 2,500 or more.

Confusion can be an issue with a CPL holder as to whether "he should know" how many seats are in a particular entertainment venue. In large venues like the Fox Theatre or the Music Hall, most people "could reasonably" know that there are at least 2,500 seats in the building.

In other cases, a sign above the entrances stating the exact seating capacity could also provide definitive info. However, what about smaller venues that don't have a sign posted? What about movie theatres? Is it the total number of seats in the entire complex or just in theatre where you are going to watch a movie? The statute is not clear.

3. Religious Facilities
The statute defines this Pistol-Free Zone as any property or facility owned or operated by a church, synagogue, mosque, temple, or other place of worship. One source of confusion that could exist with this provision is that it is not totally clear if it includes businesses such as church-owned apartment buildings, car washes, and retail shops.

Also, note that it is okay to carry a concealed pistol on church property if you have permission from the presiding official of the respective religious institution. I recommend that you get permission in writing and keep the note in your purse or wallet.

4. Hospitals
Everyone knows what a hospital looks like and should not have any problems with unknowingly carrying a handgun into a Pistol-Free Zone here. How about a doctor's office or a local clinic? It's open to interpretation. What do you think?

5. Casinos
I think that everyone can agree as to what constitutes a casino. We have several in the area: MotorCity, Greektown, and the MGM.

6. University Dormitories and Classrooms
The statute does not mention any other areas on campus as Pistol-Free Zones. Thus, one can assume that the campus grounds are "fair game." Also, keep in mind that a university's policies, as to whether students can carry at school, do not affect non-students.

7. Sports Arenas and Stadiums
We have several stadiums and arenas in the local area: Joe Louis Arena, Cobo Hall, Ford Field, The Palace of Auburn Hills, and etc.

8. Child-Care Facilities
The statute defines this Pistol-Free Zone as a public or private child care center or day care center, public or private child caring institution, or public or private child placing agency.


9. Schools and School Property

The statute expressly allows parents and legal guardians of students at a specific school to be armed while dropping off and picking up their kids, as long as the parent of legal guardian does not exit his vehicle.

A Couple Observations

One point to keep in mind with all of the above statutorily defined Pistol-Free Zones is that the parking lots of those facilities are exempt. Thus, if you are carrying a pistol while driving to a Pistol-Free Zone, it is perfectly legal to leave your handgun in your car. Preferably, you will have already bought a car-safe just for that express purpose.

Another point to ponder is the fact that there are some gray areas in the law. If you are in doubt as to whether you are in a Pistol-Free Zone, you may want to err on the side of caution and leave your handgun in your car.
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