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When May I Lawfully Transport a Pistol in My Car?

Sep 12th, 2017 Criminal Penalties Gun Laws When May I Lawfully Transport a Pistol in My Car?

If you have a CPL, then you may carry a loaded pistol inside the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle anytime you like.  However, if you do not have a CPL a whole different set of rules applies, and it is important for you as a gun owner to understand these rules.  Otherwise, you might inadvertently find yourself charged with serious felony.

As a general principle of law, all firearms carried inside a car will be considered concealed.  This is true even if the firearm is in plain view.  There is no such thing as “open carry” inside a car.  A violation of this law is a five-year felony. See MCL § 750.227 Concealed weapons; carrying; penalty.

There are, however, rather broad exceptions that allow lawful transportation of a pistol without a CPL.  These exceptions only apply to individuals who are not otherwise precluded from owning weapons due to prior criminal activities, judicial orders, mental health adjudications, etc.

However, if you are otherwise allowed to own a pistol, then you should know that the specific exceptions to MCL § 750.227(2), are found in MCL § 750.231a. One such exception allows for transportation of pistols in a vehicle for a “lawful purpose.” Unfortunately, due to a 2012 amendment to this section, this phrase is no longer defined.  Before being taken out “lawful purpose” was defined as going to or from any one of the following:

  • A hunting or target area
  • A place of repair
  • A public shooting facility
  • Public land where shooting is legal
  • Private property where a pistol may be lawfully used.

It is not clear why the Michigan State Legislature decided to retain the phrase “lawful purpose” yet remove the definition of the term.

If you do not have a CPL and are transporting a pistol for a “lawful purpose” then MCL § 750.231a also provides that a pistol transported for a “lawful purpose” by a person not licensed to carry a concealed pistol must be all the following:

  • Unloaded
  • In a closed case designed for firearms
  • In the trunk (or if the vehicle has no trunk, it must not be readily accessible to the occupants)

Thus, to properly transport a pistol in your car without a CPL in Michigan you should be sure you have separated the magazine from the pistol.  Also make sure the chamber is fully unloaded, then place the pistol in a case, and lock the pistol in your trunk.

These rules only apply to transportation within Michigan.  Once you cross state lines, different rules may apply depending on the rules of that state.

Finally, you should know that these rules apply cars and all other motor vehicles.  According to the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code, § 257.33, the term “motor vehicle” means every vehicle that is self-propelled. This definition is very broad and includes (but is not limited to) vehicles that are not cars or trucks such as:

  • Motorcycles;
  • Golf carts;
  • Motorized scooters;
  • ATVs;
  • Riding lawnmowers.

Thus, if you have a pistol with you and you are on any kind of a motor vehicle, and you fail to take proper precautions then you could be charged with the felony of carrying a concealed weapon. For more on how to legally transport your weapon and avoid any potential penalties seek the assistance of a Michigan gun lawyer today.