Citation(s) from the literature library

Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 2021 ‘Preemption of Local Laws in Michigan.’ Other Laws & Policies. San Francisco, CA: Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 1 March

Relevant contents

Local Authority to Regulate Firearms in Michigan

Michigan Compiled Laws Service § 123.1102 provides:

A local unit of government shall not impose special taxation on, enact or enforce any ordinance or regulation pertaining to, or regulate in any other manner the ownership, registration, purchase, sale, transfer, transportation, or possession of pistols or other firearms, ammunition for pistols or other firearms, or components of pistols or other firearms, except as otherwise provided by federal law or a law of this state.

Exceptions to section 123.1102 include local legislation:

- Prohibiting or regulating conduct with a firearm that is a criminal offense under state law1;
- Prohibiting or regulating the transportation, carrying, or possession of firearms by employees of a local unit of government in the course of their employment with that local unit of government; and
- Prohibiting the discharge of firearms within the jurisdiction of a city or charter township.

In Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners v. City of Ferndale, 662 N.W.2d 864 (Mich. Ct. App. 2003), the Court of Appeals of Michigan upheld a section 123.1102 challenge to a city ordinance making public buildings gun-free zones. The court stated that a local law is preempted by state law if the state law completely occupies the field the ordinance attempts to regulate, or the ordinance directly conflicts with a state law.

The court stated that section 123.1102 demonstrates that, "in effect, state law completely occupies the field of regulation that the Ferndale ordinance seeks to enter" - the carrying or possession of firearms. According to the court, the ordinance would only be allowable if a federal or state law existed which expressly permitted the regulation. Finding no law allowing the Ferndale ordinance, the court determined that the ordinance was preempted by section 123.1102.

In Morgan v. United States DOJ, 473 F. Supp. 2d 756 (E.D. Mich. 2007), a federal district court held that a Redford Township zoning ordinance restricting the sale of firearms in a designated residential area was not preempted by section 123.1102. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives denied renewal of plaintiff's Federal Firearms License over concerns that the township interpreted its residential zoning plan as prohibiting the sale of firearms in premises located in residential districts. Plaintiff sued on several grounds, including that section 123.1102 preempted the zoning restriction. The court found that section 123.1102 does not preempt the zoning restriction because "zoning ordinances of general application merely regulate the location of certain categories of businesses, activities, or dwellings" and do not enter into the substantive field of regulation governing a particular business, activity or dwelling.

The Michigan Attorney General has opined that local units of government "may not require an applicant for a license to purchase a pistol to provide his or her fingerprints before" issuance of the license. Mich. While the opinion was supported by several statutes, the Attorney General found support for this conclusion in section 123.1102 which statute, in the Attorney General's opinion, occupies the "field of firearm regulation."…

[Editor's note: The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence regularly updates its webpages with new data as US gun regulation evolves state by state. For the most up-to-date information on US gun laws, please refer to the Giffords URL below]

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