Court video footage shows the ruthless racial impact of Michigan’s carry laws on black men

Court video footage shows the ruthless racial impact of Michigan’s carry laws on black men
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

In the lead-up to NYSRPA v. Bruen, I summarized a number of amicus briefs that revealed the divisions among various groups of Americans. One of the best amicus briefs from that case was submitted by public defender groups, namely, the Black Attorneys of Legal Aid, Bronx Defenders, Brooklyn Defender Services, and others.


The public defenders’ amicus brief stood out because it showed the heartlessness and the ruthlessness with which gun control laws are enforced, specifically targeting poor black people. The brief had page after page of the inhumane treatment meted out to peaceable individuals for merely exercising their natural right to keep and bear arms. Even possessing a gun in the privacy of one’s home was treated as a crime because of New York’s gun laws.

Michigan appears to be not much better than New York when it comes to the enforcement of gun control. It’s uniformly racist as it is in New York, targeted at indigent black men who can’t afford Hunter Biden’s high-powered attorneys, and thus depend on overextended public defenders.

A video is worth a thousand words, and thankfully, the 36th District Court in Detroit, Michigan, uploaded almost one year’s worth of virtual judicial proceedings to their YouTube channel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

X/Twitter user avsterbone spent several hours watching the proceedings of Detroit’s Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW) Criminal Docket, and made some startling discoveries (archived links):


Excluding individuals involved in the commission of a crime, he narrowed down to those charged only with carrying a concealed handgun without a license. What he found was worse than I expected: the law was almost entirely (99%) targeted at black men, 70% of whom, by his count, did not have any prior record of a crime.

One of the cases, Mr. Jovontae Beard (archived links), mistakenly thought he was open carrying (which is legal), but because “he had an inside pocket holster with the muzzle hidden,” it was considered concealed carry, so he had to pay thousands of dollars in fines, surrender his firearm, and suffer a year of probation.

Another gentleman had an expired carry permit, and was punished similarly (archived links):

Another man was represented by a public defender who didn’t know the law (archived links) and deferred to the prosecutor (archived links).

This is a real tragedy. 

According to the Michigan State Police website (archived links), there is a $100.00 application and licensing fee for a concealed pistol license (CPL) as of this writing. At the current Michigan minimum wage (archived) of $10.10/hr, applying for a government permission slip to carry a defensive handgun costs almost 10 hours of labor for a person working a minimum wage job. It is understandable why someone would want to open carry to avoid paying a fee; unfortunately, open carry makes people uncomfortable, and let’s be candid – a peaceable black man openly carrying a gun is going to make a lot of people uncomfortable.


Likewise, it’s understandable why someone would have an expired carry permit. It’s common for people to drive around with an expired registration or even an expired driver’s license. Human forgetfulness is a thing. Punishing that with forfeiture, fines, and/or probation is too much, especially when it comes to a constitutionally protected right.

Twitter/X user avsterbone also noted (archived links) that the Wayne County prosecutor has a diversion program for some problematic crimes (archived links), including theft, malicious destruction of property, breaking and entering, and resisting arrest. The crime of carrying without a government-granted permission slip, however, is ineligible for the diversionary program.

Michigan lawmakers need to reflect on the outcomes of their laws. They may have noble intentions when it comes to racial equality, but they need to reflect on why these outcomes are happening.

Are permits necessary in the first place? The majority of states in the country have gone to permitless carry already and have not seen any uptick in violence; in fact, the top 3 safest states in the country – Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire – are permitless carry states. Those with criminal intent or with felonious backgrounds that make them prohibited persons are not going to bother with any background checks or permitting processes when it comes to guns.

If the government insists on a permit to exercise an enumerated right, how can the government get away with exorbitant fees like Michigan’s $100 fee or New York’s $340 fee? How is this not burdensome? If the rationale is to defray the costs of running the permitting regime, why is that money not taken out of the general fund? If fees must be imposed on the applicant, why is there no provision for a means-tested subsidy for the poor?


I reached out to four Michigan lawmakers for comment: Sen. Kevin Hertel, Rep. Jim Haadsma, Rep. Kimberly Edwards, and Rep. Tyrone Carter. None of them responded.

It’s obvious that racial equality and gun control are mutually incompatible. The sooner lawmakers admit that and repeal meaningless gun control laws, the better.

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