Article I, § 6 of the Constitution of the State of Michigan provides that “[e]very person has a right to keep and bear arms for the defense of himself and the state.”
The Supreme Court of Michigan and the state’s other appellate courts have repeatedly held that Article I, § 6 is subject to the reasonable exercise of the state’s police power.1
In 2014, the Court of Appeals of Michigan ruled, in People v. Wilder, that a conviction for “possession of a firearm while intoxicated” did not violate the state right to bear arms.2 In doing so, the court noted that the right to bear arms was not universal, and that “there are constitutionally acceptable categorical regulations of gun possession.”3Wilder distinguished an earlier case, People v. Deroche, 829 N.W.2d 891 (Mich. Ct. App. 2013), which had affirmed the dismissal of a charge for possession of a firearm while intoxicated, by observing that the possession of the firearm in Wilder was actual, rather than simply constructive.4
Michigan courts have also held that Article I, § 6 applies only to the possession of arms for the purpose of self-defense and provides no right regarding the use of firearms for hunting or sport.5
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- See People v. Brown, 235 N.W. 245, 246-47 (Mich. 1931) (rejecting an Article I, § 6 challenge to a statute criminalizing possession of a blackjack, a weapon of “urban gangsters,” noting that Article I, § 6 provides no right to arms “whose customary employment by individuals is to violate the law”); Eaton County Deputy Sheriffs Association v. Smith, 195 N.W.2d 12 (Mich. Ct. App. 1971) (rejecting an Article I, § 6 challenge to a statute giving sheriffs the power to prohibit deputies from carrying guns while off duty); People v. Perry, 326 N.W.2d 437, 439 (Mich. Ct. App. 1982) (defendant’s conviction for possession of a firearm during commission of a felony did not violate Article I, § 6); People v. Graham, 335 N.W.2d 658, 661 (Mich. Ct. App. 1983) (Article I, § 6 “does not encompass the possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.”); People v. Smelter, 437 N.W.2d 341, 342 (Mich. Ct. App. 1989) (upholding defendant’s conviction for possession of a stun gun as a “reasonable and constitutional” prohibition by the legislature); People v. Swint, 572 N.W.2d 666, 671 (Mich. Ct. App. 1997) (rejecting an Article I, § 6 challenge to a state law prohibiting possession of a firearm by a convicted felon); and People v. Green, 580 N.W.2d 444, 449 (Mich. Ct. App. 1997) (noting that a felon-in-possession statute did not violate Michigan’s constitutional right to bear arms provision); but see People v. Yanna, 824 N.W.2d 241, 245 (Mich. Ct. App. 2012) (calling into question the holding from Smelter with respect to stun guns).
- 861 N.W.2d 645, 648 (Mich. Ct. App. 2014).
- Id. at 649.
- Wilder, 861 N.W.2d at 649.
- Kampf v. Kampf, 603 N.W.2d 295, 298 (Mich. Ct. App. 1999) (statute prohibiting firearm possession by an individual subject to a domestic abuse restraining order does not violate Article I, § 6 and is a reasonable exercise of police power, even though the individual wished to possess a firearm for hunting and sporting events); see also People v. Zerillo, 189 N.W. 927 (Mich. 1922) (holding that while a state law could prohibit non-U.S. citizens from possessing handguns for the purpose of hunting, the law would violate Article I, § 6 (previously codified as Mich. Const. art. II, § 5) if it prevented non-U.S. citizens from possessing a handgun to defend themselves or their property).