While the debate continues about the merits of ‘Open Carry’ versus ‘Concealed Carry,’ every state has differing opinions and laws regulating firearms. Open Carry refers to openly carrying a firearm in public, whereas Concealed Carry describes carrying firearms that cannot be readily seen by the public. The Open Carry advocates argue that the sight of a weapon acts as a deterrent to crime, offers more ready access to their weapon in an emergency, and is an exercise of their rights to protest unconstitutional firearms laws. Proponents of Concealed Carry say that carrying a handgun in a concealed manner on the person or in close proximity to them is sufficient for their protection.
Every state has its own set of gun laws which regulate the sale, possession and use of firearms. Carrying a firearm is governed by the laws of the state that a person is in at the time, not by laws of the state of the individual’s residence. Therefore, it is paramount that individuals carrying concealed weapons and firearms when traveling out-of-state consult with a knowledgeable lawyer to determine whether such reciprocity exists, or whether it is legal to carry at all.
Michigan is an Open Carry state and a “Shall Issue” Concealed Carry state. This means that people 21 years-old or older can get a license to carry a concealed handgun if they meet certain guidelines, such as not having been found guilty or accused of particular felonies or misdemeanors, having completed an approved firearms training course, and are otherwise not prohibited from owning a firearm.
“Shall Issue” states require a permit to carry a concealed weapon to those who meet certain criteria, and the granting authority has no discretion in doing so. On the other hand, in “May Issue” states, the granting authority has partial discretion in issuing the permit.
Up until recently, those who were licensed to carry concealed handguns in Michigan were prohibited from carrying in certain areas, including schools or school property, day care centers, sports arenas, taverns, courthouses, religious facilities, hospitals, universities, dormitories, classrooms and casinos. A Michigan Senate committee has approved certain changes to the concealed weapon law; these proposed changes are awaiting a vote by the full Senate. The amendments would include allowing individuals to carry weapons into places that were previously forbidden, such as churches, schools, sports arenas and potentially into college classrooms, hospitals and taverns.
Even though there seems to be vast public disapproval of the proposed changes, the debate goes on. State Senator Arlan Meekhoff illustrated to the Senate Committee how he could openly carry a weapon in schools and churches, while this would be illegal if he covered a handgun with his coat. His retort is that there are people who feel uneasy about seeing a gun in a holster on someone’s side, often bringing back memories of the Wild West.
The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the rights of people to keep and bear arms but the debate on gun control gained traction again following the horrific shootings in Colorado, on July 20, 2012 and the Sikh massacre in Wisconsin. Gun control advocates assert that by disarming the public there will be a reduction in misuse that causes such events to occur. Would stricter gun laws solve the problem? I don’t think so. Unfortunately, this philosophy would only serve to take firearms out of the hands of the law abiding public and such wishful thinking would not serve as a deterrent for the criminal element.
Scott Weinberg is a seasoned criminal attorney and a stalwart defender of the rights of Michigan residents for the last twenty-five years. In addition to being held in high esteem by the judiciary and his peers for his knowledge of the law, he is an expert commentator on Court TV, CBS Radio and his own show “Weinberg On The Law.”
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Lawmakers Approve Changes To Concealed Weapons Law, CBS Local News, March 22, 2012