In Michigan, the nights are getting cooler and leaves are changing color. A spooky tradition lurks around the corner. Halloween is soon upon us. But beware, there are scary situations that can arise from the law when it comes to firearms and All Hallows Eve.
One scary situation this Halloween relates to how COVID-19 might impact your celebration and your Second Amendment rights. There is currently much confusion about what is and is not allowed now that our Supreme Court has invalidated most of the Governor’s executive orders. However, because the health department has stepped in to fill the gap, masks are still required for gatherings of any size.
Mask Requirements During Halloween
With this mask requirement comes an important question surrounding Halloween: is it legal to wear a Halloween mask or other face covering and carry a firearm? The short answer is “yes.” However, if we look at Michigan Law, we see that, according to MCL § 750.396, it is illegal to intentionally conceal your identity by wearing a mask to commit a crime. The statute does not prohibit legally carrying a weapon while wearing a mask. Instead, the law prevents wearing a mask (even if you are unarmed) with the intent to commit a crime. This applies to all of the “tricks” played by wayward youth on Halloween who wear masks to conceal their identities as they smash pumpkins and cause general mischief.
Carrying a Firearm
It is also illegal to carry a firearm if you intend to use it illegally. MCL § 750.226 makes it a felony to carry a weapon for that purpose. Again, this does not address the regular right to open carry or to carry under a CPL if you are carrying for a lawful purpose. Nothing in this section makes it illegal to carry a firearm for lawful purposes while wearing a mask, either.
Defending Against Halloween Mischief
What about protecting your property from the little ghosts and goblins that want to create mischief at this time of year?
Michigan law does not allow you to use force or lethal force in defense of property alone. The Castle Doctrine will only apply if you occupy your home and honestly and reasonably believe that someone is in the process of breaking and entering your home or committing a home invasion, or has already done so, or is attempting to unlawfully remove someone from the home. In this situation, you may use lethal force to stop the threat.
Outside your home, you may only use force or lethal force when you honestly and reasonably believe that you or another person face an imminent serious bodily injury, death, or sexual assault. If the only threat is to property, your best bet is to call the police.
Firearms & Alcohol
Another consideration around Halloween is the consumption of alcohol. Many costume parties will be hosted with alcohol flowing freely. Additionally, many parents enjoy a beer or two while accompanying their children while out trick-or-treating. This can lead to a legal issue if you are carrying a firearm.
There are two main statutes that preclude the use of alcohol while carrying a firearm:
- MCL § 750.237 makes it illegal to possess any firearm while impaired or under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance.
- With a Concealed Pistol License (“CPL”), MCL § 28.425k makes it illegal to have a .02 BAC or above. Once a CPL holder reaches that minor level, they are treated as though they have no CPL and must follow the laws for open carry. That means a single beer could cost you your CPL.
The best policy is always to put the guns away when the alcohol comes out.
Hopefully, this information will keep you and your family safe this Halloween, but if you have any questions, please call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.
The preceding should not be construed as legal advice nor the creation of an attorney-client relationship. This is not an endorsement or solicitation for any service. Your situation may be different, so please contact your attorney regarding your specific circumstances. Because the laws, judges, juries, and prosecutors vary from location to location, similar or even identical facts and circumstances to those described in this presentation may result in significantly different legal outcomes. This presentation is by no means a guarantee or promise of any particular legal outcome, positive, negative, or otherwise.