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A bill to reform Michigan’s handgun registration law has been introduced. Michigan handgun registration was originally passed 90 years ago in 1927 and may have been used as an example for the National Firearms Act of 1934. After The Mitten State required a license to obtain a pistol, another statute was added to make it illegal to possess a short barreled rifle or shotgun in 1931.

The bill that became the National Firearms Act originally required licensing and registration of all pistols, as well of all short barreled rifles and shotguns. Pistols were stripped from the bill, leaving the anachronistic regulation of short barreled rifles and shotguns. Such oddities and orphans in the law are far too common.

Michigan eventually removed their state ban on short barreled rifles and shotguns, in deference to the federal regulation, in 2014.  The current bill proposes more reforms by making the 1927 vintage pistol registration voluntary.


Under current law, a person cannot purchase, carry, possess, or transport a pistol in Michigan without first having obtained a license for it. The person then turns the license back in to authorities, officially registering the pistol.

(Rep. Lee) Chatfield’s house bill 4554 would make that last step optional, and eliminate the $250 fine for not registering. It would also allow people who have already registered to request the Michigan State Police remove their information from the registry.

“There is no need for state government to maintain an exhaustive list of law-abiding citizens who legally purchase pistols,” Chatfield said in a press release.

He said Michigan was one of only six states to require registration right now, and it did little to fight crime.

Firearm registration has been shown to be a very poor method of reducing crime. It enhances the belief that the purpose of the system is to enable eventual confiscation. The Canadian pistol registration system has never been important in solving even a single homicide in 75 years of use. The Michigan system has been similarly ineffective

The reform bill, HB 4554, retains the licensing requirement, but eliminates the requirement to register the pistol. From the bill:

The purchaser may return 1 copy of the license to the licensing authority. The purchaser may return the copy to the licensing authority in person by first-class mail or certified mail to the proper address of the licensing authority.

(Line outs and additions have been edited for clarity.The change is an incremental step to only eliminate the registration system.) A similar bill failed to pass  the legislature in 2016.


©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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  1. “He said Michigan was one of only six states to require registration right now, and it did little to fight crime…”

    You don’t say.

    Did not enough murderers register their pistols (and subsequently leave them at a crime scene)? We should get on that.

  2. Why did the racist shits in Lansing come up with the pistol permit/registration scheme in 1927, and why are the same sort of racist politicians trying to keep it going?

    I have a two word answer to that, Ossian Sweet.
    They just couldn’t stand the idea of a black physician being able to arm himself and defend his home, so they set it up so Michigan’s sheriffs could decide who got to own defensive weapons. The permits are shall issue now, but it’s the fear of a black man with a gun that still drives the politicians today.

    • Ossian Sweet causing “registration” is a myth. Retail registration was passed in PA 350 of 1913.

      Retroactive registration of handguns was passed with PA 313 of 1925. This also created a statewide licensing system.

      PA 372 of 1927 was a rewrite of PA 313 and it’s was very similar in nature except it added permits to purchase.

      It’s also a myth that gun boards were created in 1927, they have been around since PA 274 of 1911.

  3. A red Michigan is a wonderful thing!

    Hopefully the federal regulations go by-by soon too.

  4. I’m going to call my reps… I’m a Michigan resident and have several friends in law enforcement. Even the ones who like government restrictions on firearms agree our registration does nothing to reduce or help solve crimes. As 20 year old college student, I’d still like to see a lower age for a CPL and campus carry, but that probably will never pass because of the big city liberals.

  5. Registration in Michigan is optional for people with an out of state carry license per MCL 28.432(1)(f). I haven’t registered in years.

    Some of us in Michigan Open Carry burn our registration forms because we are exempt.

    If more people stopped registering and took advantage of the exemptions the system would crash sooner and it would have already been repealed.

    • Be careful with this, i don’t think it is true. Michigan only honors resident permits and licenses from other states and when you are in Michigan for 180 days or less. MCL 28.422 (9) Most states like AZ will issue you a Non Resident permit that will not be valid in Michigan.

  6. In New Zealand, the Police are against gun registration as it would require far too much manpower and resources for little or no gain. We have a licensing system that is easy for the average rifle or shotgun, but difficult for AR/AK type of weapons, and next to impossible for handguns. There are many who persist through all the hoops, but the man on the street is never going to be able to buy a pistol for personal protection, which is prohibited not by law, but by regulation. So our basic human rights have been denied, but as the felons who would abuse these rights can hardly be called human, we all suffer. C’est la vie.

  7. Michigan is the curious case of a state whose largest metropolitan area has next to no pull on the rest of the state.

    Detroit is true blue, but they can’t force the rest of the state to do anything it doesn’t want to (in stark contrast to NY-NYC or Chicago-Illinois)

    • Detroit just doesn’t like that when people from outside their thug sanctuary city come in to do normal business, the slugs for thugs program stops their thugs from pulling monkey business!

      Even Illinois and New York are starting to rebel against Chicago and NYC. It’s subtle, but noticeable to people who are paying attention. Chicago and NYC aren’t going to be able to protect their thugs too much longer, it seems. Good riddance.

  8. I’m puzzled. So the license still has to be obtained, but it doesn’t have to be turned in anymore. That’s what I call a complete waste of manpower. Some clerk by law has to dispense a form that they know we’re going to use as either a target or TP because the legislature can’t bring themselves to just cleanly repeal the anti-gun bill that created the mess in the first place?

    Government at its finest. Blerg.

    • We asked that the license to purchase (so many exemptions to it anyway) not be repealed. We don’t want a ballot initiative here and we can’t fight it off. We have no money to compete with Bloomberg’s millions.

      If a private sale ban passed, it would take 3/4 vote from both houses to amend or repeal it and we could NEVER overcome that.

      I don’t like it but Iowa and Nebraska have a similar system and it’s not the end of the world.

      We just want the registration database gone because the majority of gun owners are too scared of the law to exercise a registration exemption.

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