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Why Are Gun Possession Charges Spiking in Michigan?

Woman stands amid vehicles being searched by police

Targeted police work and a misunderstanding of Michigan’s “open-carry” laws may be driving a surge in nonviolent gun arrests.

In Detroit, the number of arrests for carrying concealed weapons (CCWs) has more than doubled since the start of the pandemic. Criminal defense attorneys across the city have noticed the change.

The arrests are concentrated in three neighborhoods - Greektown, Corktown, and Midtown. Of those arrested, about 70 percent are legal gun owners, according to a new analysis.

Detroit Concealed Carry (CCW) Arrests

The wave of CCW arrests was identified by a coalition of Detroit public criminal defense attorneys and justice advocates. They compared quarterly arrest data from before and after the start of the pandemic, around January 2020.

Before the pandemic, there were typically fewer than 400 CCW arrests reported in the city per quarter.

Now, there are more than 1,000 such arrests being made every three months in Detroit.

Open Carry and Gun Transportation

Most of the people being charged with CCW since the start of the pandemic were arrested while transporting their guns.

Michigan allows open carry, but there are restrictions. There are a lot of rules around how to legally transport firearms. Failing to meet the standards may lead to a concealed carry charge.

In general, to legally transport a gun in Michigan, you must meet these standards:

  • The owner of the gun is in the vehicle
  • The weapon is unloaded
  • The firearm is stored in an approved, enclosed firearm safe unit or it is placed somewhere in the vehicle that is not easily accessible to occupants

It’s worth noting that Michigan’s gun laws bar residents from carrying a gun for an “unlawful” purpose. In general, firearms cannot be concealed unless you have a special license to carry a concealed weapon.

Harsh Penalties for Nonviolent Gun Charges

The penalties for violating Michigan’s gun laws can be harsh. This is why advocates and defense attorneys are pressuring the Wayne County prosecutor to throw out recent CCW charges. CCW is often considered a felony.

Among the penalties for a CCW conviction are:

  • Up to 5 years in prison
  • Up to $2,500 in fines
  • Banned from possessing firearms
  • Restricted voting rights
  • Challenges applying for jobs, apartments, loans, and schools due to requirements and stigma against “felons”

Defense Against Michigan Gun Charges

If you are facing a CCW or other charge for allegedly violating Michigan's gun laws, contact Manley & Manley for a free case evaluation. A member of our legal team can explain how the law applies to your specific situation and your legal options.

Manley & Manley is an established, leading criminal defense law firm that serves all of Michigan. Based in Flint, our attorneys are aggressive and know what it takes to get the best possible results for our clients. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation and find out how our firm can help you.

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