Michigan Schools Can Ban Guns, Supreme Court Rules
Four out of seven justices ruled in favor of two Michigan school districts after two firearm advocacy groups filed lawsuits.
Michigan school districts have the right to ban firearms on campus, the state’s Supreme Court ruled Friday, upholding a 2016 ruling by the Michigan Court of Appeals.
While Michigan state law allows people with concealed carry permits to bring guns onto school property, at least two districts have enacted policies banning weapons, reports CNN.
Four out of seven justices ruled in favor of the Ann Arbor and Clio school districts after separate lawsuits were filed by firearm advocacy groups; Michigan Gun Owners filed a lawsuit against Ann Arbor Public Schools while Michigan Open Carry filed against Clio Area Schools.
The seven justices heard oral arguments over the gun bans in April amid the national debate over school safety and deadly shootings.
The firearm advocacy groups filed the lawsuits claiming state law prohibits a “local unit of government” from banning the possession of firearms. The school districts argued state law tasks them with ensuring the safety of its students.
A key issue in the case was whether the definition of a “local unit of government” applies to a school district, according to Governing. The Michigan Legislature defines a local unit of government as a city, village, township or county, which the Michigan Court of Appeals noted in its 2016 ruling.
The justices in the majority wrote that the Michigan Legislature can obstruct school districts from enacting gun bans but has not done so, citing a prior case that found the law “expressly preempts regulation of firearms by a city, village, township, or county; it does not apply to school districts.”
Jim Makowski, the attorney for Michigan Gun Owners, said since the Supreme Court’s decision cannot be appealed, his group is considering other action, such as lobbying for the legislature for a change to the law.
Supporters, Opponents React to Court Ruling
Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Jeanice Swift praised the court’s ruling, stating, “It appears that school districts and boards of education will have the latitude to adopt policies like those we’ve adopted. We think that’s a win for children across Michigan. We think that’s a win for local boards of education and local control.”
Ann Arbor’s board banned all guns on public school property and at school-sponsored activities in 2015 after a resident openly carried a sidearm into a high school choir concert, reports Detroit News.
Makowski said the decision saddens him because he believes it will do nothing to improve school safety.
“Now criminals can be confident that most school districts are not going to allow firearms on property,” Makowski said. “Now we’ve just created a whole bunch of soft targets that are not going to be protected by an individual with a firearm.”
Fletcher Spears, superintendent of Clio Area Schools who also is a member of the National Rifle Association and a concealed pistol license holder, said Makowski’s argument does not sit well with him.
“There have to be some common sense limitations,” Spears said.
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