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Know the Laws: Michigan

UPDATED August 16, 2016

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WomensLaw.org strongly recommends that you get help from an organization in your area for specific advice.  To find an agency, please go to the MI Where to Find Help page.

More Information and Where to Get Help

back to topWho do I notify if I think the abuser should not have a gun?

If you think the abuser is violating the state firearm laws, you can call your local police or sheriff department or the State Police.  If you believe s/he is violating federal firearm laws, you can call the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). Let them know that either you have a PPO against the abuser, or s/he has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor.

You can find contact information for sheriff departments in your area on our MI Sheriff Departments page.

To contact your local ATF field office, see the ATF website.  For reporting illegal firearm activity, you can also call: 1-800-ATF-GUNS (1-800-283-4867).

A local domestic violence organization in your area may also be able to answer your questions and assist you in talking to the necessary law enforcement officials.  You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our MI State and Local Programs page under the Where to Find Help tab on the top of this page.

Note: Generally, a person does not have to have knowledge of the law in order to be arrested for violating the law. If the abuser has a gun or buys a gun in violation of the law, s/he can be arrested, whether or the abuser knows s/he was in violation of the law.*

* United States v. Lippman, 369 F. 3d 1039 (8th Cir. 2004); United States v. Henson, 55 F. Supp. 2d 528 (S.D. W.V. 1999)

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back to topWhat is the penalty for violating state or federal firearm law?

Anyone who owns, has or buys a gun in violation of the federal firearm law can be punished by a fine, jail time for up to 10 years, or both.*

Also, under MI state law, if there is a firearm restriction written into the terms of the order, the abuser can be held in contempt for violating that term (or any other term of the PPO).  The punishment for contempt can be jail time of up to 93 days, a fine of up to $500, or both.**  

* 18 USC 924 (a) (2)
** Mich. Laws § 600.2950(23)

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back to topI do not have a PPO against the abuser, and s/he has not been convicted of any crime. Is there anything I can do?

In Michigan, there can still be other reasons why a person cannot carry a concealed weapon aside from being subject to an active PPO or being convicted of a crime.  MI state law says that a person cannot have a license to carry a concealed pistol if s/he:

  • is under age 21;
  • is not a US citizen or lawful permanent resident;
  • is subject to a court order regarding mental illness or competency (see statute, section (7)(d) for more information);
  • has been dishonorably discharged from the armed forces;
  • has been subject to an order of involuntary commitment in a mental health center or is under an order of legal incapacity in any state;
  • is currently diagnosed with a mental illness that includes an assessment that the individual presents a danger to himself/herself or others (regardless of whether or not s/he is receiving treatment for the mental illness);
  • has been acquitted of a crime by reason of insanity or mental illness; or
  • the licensing board believes that it would be otherwise harmful to the safety of the applicant or others for the applicant to possess a concealed pistol based on clear and convincing evidence of repeated violations of this law, crimes, personal protection orders or injunctions, police reports or other clear and convincing evidence of the actions / statements of the applicant.*

If any of these fit your situation, please talk to an advocate in your area about how this law is being enforced.

If none of these situations apply, you can still make a plan for your safety.  See our Staying Safe page for more information.  You can also contact your local domestic violence organization for additional help.  You may want to talk to them about whether leaving the area - either long term or for a little while - might help improve your safety.  See our MI State and Local Programs page to find a local domestic violence organization near you.

For additional information on gun laws in Michigan, you can go to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence website.

* M.C.L.A. § 28.425b(7)

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back to topWhat will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?

Before purchasing a gun from a licensed firearm dealer, all buyers must undergo a criminal background check that is processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).  If the abuser has a qualifying protection order against him/her, or has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor in any state, those records should be in the NICS, which should prevent the abuser from buying a gun.  Not all states have automated record keeping systems, making it more difficult to process the criminal background check, and some criminals and abusers do slip through the system.  Also, it is important to know that background checks are not required for private and online gun sales.  

If the abuser is able to purchase a gun and you believe that s/he should not be able to have one under the law, you can alert the police, and ask that his/her gun be taken away and perhaps the police will investigate.  Generally, it is not a good idea to assume that because the abuser was able to buy a gun, it is legal for him/her to have one.

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back to topThe abuser uses a gun for his/her job. Does the law still apply?

Maybe.  Under federal law, which applies to all states, if the abuser is a law enforcement officer, military employee or government employee, then s/he might be able to continue to use his/her gun for work purposes, but not for personal use.**   In addition, when you fill out a petition for a PPO, it will ask you if the abuser needs to carry a gun for his/her job.*  If the court gives you a PPO, and the abuser is a law enforcement officer, the law enforcement agency will be notified of the PPO.*** 

Note: Even if the abuser is a police officer or a military employee, if s/he has been convicted of a felony or a domestic violence misdemeanor, then under federal law, s/he cannot buy or have a gun regardless of his/her job status.*

If you are confused as to whether or not the abuser can still use a gun for work purposes, you can talk to a domestic violence advocate in your area or call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit to find out more information: 1-800-903-0111 x 2.  To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please visit our MI State and Local Programs page.

* 18 USC 925 (a)(1)
** Mich. Laws §600.2950(2)
*** Mich. Laws §600.2950(15)(c)

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back to topI've read through all of this information, and I am still confused. What can I do?

Trying to understand both federal and state law can be confusing, but there are people out there who can help you better understand the law and your rights under the law.

  • You can also contact the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit to get more information about the federal firearm law and how it applies to you: 1-800-903-0111 x 2
  • You can contact a local domestic violence organization in your area - see our MI State and Local Programs page.
  • You can write to our Email Hotline.

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