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Can the Police Confiscate My Guns During the State of Emergency?

Mar 27th, 2020 Covid-19 Can the Police Confiscate My Guns During the State of Emergency?

By Executive Order 2020-04 Governor Whitmer declared a state of emergency across the State of Michigan.  In doing so, the Governor activated the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act.  Passed in 1945, the Act provides that during times of great public crisis or public emergency of immediate danger the government’s power vastly increases.  Specific powers given to the executive branch of government, including to the police in general, may, among other things, include the regulation of the sale of alcohol and explosives.

However, subsection 2 of section 5 of the Act provides that the powers given to the Governor do not otherwise include or authorize the seizure, taking, or confiscation of lawfully possessed firearms or ammunition.

Michigan citizen’s Second Amendment rights are also protected at the Federal level during times of public emergency by an even more inclusive prohibition against firearm seizure. This Federal prohibition is found at 42 U.S.C 5207.  Known as the Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, this Federal law prohibits the confiscation of firearms by any officer or employee of the United States. The Act also prohibits any law that infringes on the otherwise lawful concealed or open carry.

According the Disaster Relief and Emergency Act, firearm forfeiture continues to be allowed in some circumstances, such as when the forfeited weapon is being seized as evidence in a criminal investigation.  Also, nothing in the Act prohibits the police from requiring the temporary surrender of a firearm as a condition for entry into any mode of transportation used for rescue or evacuation during the state of emergency.  In these limited circumstances, the temporarily surrendered firearm must be returned to the owner at the completion of such rescue or evacuation.

Consequently, it would appear that during the Michigan State of Emergency citizens have no greater or lesser Second Amendment gun rights, and that no laws can be passed infringing on the right to purchase, own, possess, carry or use a firearms, provided of course this is being done in otherwise responsible and lawful manner.