Monday, November 23, 2015

Guns in schools

A recent push to change gun laws in Michigan is being presented as a compromise, but has also been characterized as a manufactured crisis meant to leverage a pro-gun position.

The current state of the law in Michigan is that holders of a concealed carry license may carry hidden firearms in most places, but are prohibited from doing so in some gun free zones including schools.  However, those same license holders may openly carry firearms in schools.  MLive, Oct. 13, 2015.  Those without a license are prohibited from carrying in schools whether openly or concealed.  

This ability of concealed carry license holders to openly carry firearms into schools has created controversy in districts including Ann Arbor and Clio.  In both instances, people tried to carry firearms openly onto school grounds citing state law.  Both districts tried to denied entry, and both wound up in court.  In the Ann Arbor case, a Circuit Court upheld the school's ban while in the Clio case a different Circuit Court said the school's ban conflicted with state law., Sept. 23, 2015; MLive, Aug. 10, 2015. The matter is likely headed to the Michigan Court of Appeals which dealt with a similar matter in 2012.

In 2010 and 2011, gun rights activists staged events where they openly carried weapons into Capitol Area District Libraries.  Michigan Open Carry.  CADL's policy prohibited the firearms, but Michigan Open Carry pressed the matter in court.  A Circuit Court threw out MOC's case, but the Court of Appeals reversed in a 2 to 1 decision.  Capital Area Dist. Library v Michigan Open Carry, Inc., 298 Mich App 220 (2012).  The Court of Appeals reasoned that MCL 123.1102, which prohibits local units of government from restricting the use and possession of firearms, applied to CADL.  The controlling question for Ann Arbor and Clio may be whether they are "local units of government" under the statute.  

However, proposed legislation might render that debate moot.  "Senate Bills 442 and 561 would essentially swap those existing rules, prohibiting open carry but allowing permit holders to seek an exemption to carry concealed weapons in schools, college dorms, sports stadiums and other regulated venues."  MLive, Oct. 13, 2015.

Proponents of the legislation offer it as a compromise:  
"We're actually trying to do (schools) a favor," sponsoring Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville, said after the GOP-led Senate Judiciary Committee advanced his bill in a 4-1 vote that fell along party lines.
"We, as gun owners, have every right in the world to carry in gun-free zones, most of them, and so are we going to give that up? We're taking a step back and saying we'll cover them up if you guys are willing to do it, and they don't even want that." [Id.]
Opponents of the legislation criticize it as a manufactured crisis meant to force the issue.  

Okemos Parents for Schools is not currently taking any position on these bills. While they undoubtedly impact schools, the arguments for and against these bills are likely to be the same arguments for and against any legislation involving guns.  While these do impact schools, the policies behind them are not really about education.  As always, this position is subject to input from members of Okemos Parents for Schools, which is defined very broadly.  Please let us know if you have questions or comments. 

1 comment:

  1. THIS is enough to make me a single-issue voter. Knowing how many children are accidentally hurt or killed by guns in homes, I do not want guns in schools. We KNOW what can and will go wrong if this is allowed. Our most basic responsibility to the children in our care is to keep them safe, and this would make them considerably LESS safe. No legislator who supports this will get my support at the polls.