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Michigan amended its definition of “firearm” in 2015 to exclude high-power and/or large caliber non-powder guns from most firearm regulations. The current definition only includes a weapon “which will, is designed to, or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by action of an explosive.”1 That law also added a definition for “pneumatic guns” to include “any implement, designed as a gun, that will expel a BB or pellet by spring, gas, or air.”2

These redefinitions also removed numerous state level restrictions previously applicable to non-powder guns, including a law that had previously prohibited minors under age 18 from using or possessing certain non-powder BB guns outside the curtilage of his or her domicile, unless accompanied by an adult over age 18.3

However, local units of government retain authority to pass laws:

  • Prohibiting or regulating conduct with a pistol, other firearm, or pneumatic gun that is a criminal offense under state law;
  • Prohibiting or regulating the transportation, carrying, or possession of pistols, other firearms, or pneumatic guns by employees of that local unit of government in the course of their employment with that local unit of government;
  • Regulating the possession of pneumatic guns within the local unit of government by requiring that an individual below the age of 16 who is in possession of a pneumatic gun be under the supervision of a parent, a guardian, or an individual 18 years of age or older, except that an ordinance shall not regulate possession of a pneumatic gun on or within private property if the individual below the age of 16 is authorized by a parent or guardian and the property owner or legal possessor to possess the pneumatic gun; and
  • Prohibiting an individual from pointing, waving about, or displaying a pneumatic gun in a threatening manner with the intent to induce fear in another individual.4

Additionally, cities and charter townships retain authority to pass laws:

  • Prohibiting the discharge of a pistol or other firearm within the jurisdiction of that city or charter township; and
  • Prohibiting the discharge of pneumatic guns in any area within the jurisdiction of the city or charter township that is so heavily populated as to make that conduct dangerous to the inhabitants of that area, except that an ordinance shall not prohibit the discharge of pneumatic guns at authorized target ranges, on other property where firearms may be discharged, or on or within private property with the permission of the owner or possessor of that property if conducted with reasonable care to prevent a projectile from crossing the bounds of the property.5


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  1. See 2015 Mich. H.B. 4161, Mich. Comp. Laws Serv. §§ 750.222(e), 123.1101(a).[]
  2. Id., Mich. Comp. Laws Serv. §§ 750.222(g), 123.1101(d). Pneumatic gun includes a paintball gun that expels by pneumatic pressure plastic balls filled with paint for the purpose of marking the point of impact. Id.[]
  3. See 2015 Mich. H.B. 4151, repealing Mich. Comp. Laws Serv. § 752.891-892.[]
  4. Mich. Comp. Laws Serv. § 123.1103.[]
  5. Mich. Comp. Laws Serv. § 123.1104.[]