Clio, Ann Arbor MI School Districts Prevail in Court: Guns CAN be Banned in School
In a ruling that could easily be moot in a month or so, the Clio and Ann Arbor School Districts in Michigan prevailed in separate lawsuits brought by “gun rights advocates” seeking to overturn gun bans enacted by the school board. In what I view as rational and logical rulings, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld bans against “…the possession of guns on school property and at school-sponsored activities.” The court rejected the gun advocate’s contention that schools in MI were impacted by a law that mandated open carry because they were “a local unit of government”, a bit of an irony in a State where the phrase “government schools” was coined:
The state law prohibits a “local unit of government” from, among other things, banning the possession of firearms. A key issue in the case was whether that applies to a school district. The Michigan Legislature, the appeals court said, defines a local unit of government as a city, village, township or county.
“A school district is not included in that list,” the court said in the Ann Arbor ruling, and therefore, the state law “does not control the outcome of this case.”
But some of the basis for the court’s decision might be in peril. In rendering the decision the court made reference to “weapon-free school zones”, which might be eliminated after President-elect Trump is sworn in next month:
The Ann Arbor district’s policy, the court said, “ensures that the learning environment remains uninterrupted by the invocation of emergency procedures which would surely be required each and every time a weapon is openly carried by a citizen into a school building.”
The panel said there are 26 references in state laws to “weapon-free school zones.”
“These four words telegraph an unmistakable objective regarding guns and schools; indeed, we find it hard to imagine a more straightforward expression of legislative will. The Legislature contemplated that this repeatedly invoked phrase would be interpreted to mean exactly what it says — no weapons are allowed in schools.“
The court’s logic is in peril for another reason as well: the MI legislature will undoubtedly be pressured by the gun right’s activists to remove those 26 references in State law and/or specifically include school districts on the list of “local units of government”. Rest assured that the gun lobby will not rest until this issue is decided in their favor.
If open carry will be allowed in public schools, here’s a question for Secretary of Education DeVos: if guns are allowed in public schools, will they be allowed in the charter schools she advocates? And a follow-up question: if Ms. DeVos decides that guns MAY be banned in charter and religious schools, will the NRA aggressively work to overturn those bans?