Michigan appeals court rules on guns at public schools
Michigan public schools can ban guns from their campuses, the state appeals court ruled, rejecting a challenge by gun-rights groups and parents who are licensed to carry firearms.
In a 3-0 decision last Friday, the court said schools are "broadly empowered" by lawmakers to adopt policies that keep students safe. It found that the Ann Arbor and Clio districts are not in conflict with a state law that prohibits local governments from regulating gun possession.
"School districts are not formed, organized or operated by cities, villages, townships or counties, but exist independently of those bodies," judges Elizabeth Gleicher, Kirsten Frank Kelly and Douglas Shapiro wrote, just a few days after hearing arguments.
The Ann Arbor district adopted a policy last year banning most visitors from possessing firearms on school property or at school-sponsored events. The presence of a "dangerous weapon" can lead to an evacuation or lockdown.
The Clio district, north of Flint, has had a similar policy since 1996, although parents who are properly licensed can have a gun in their car when picking up or dropping off a student. The districts' bans were challenged by gun-owning parents.
"The presence of guns in schools runs contrary to everything we are wired for in education and is counterproductive to maintaining a rich, productive and healthy learning environment for our children," the Ann Arbor district said in reaction to the court's opinion.
Jim Makowski, an attorney for Michigan Gun Owners and Ann Arbor parent Ulysses Wong, said he'll ask the Michigan Supreme Court to consider the case. He said the appeals court should have applied a 2012 decision that found that public libraries can't regulate guns.
"It's our belief that the Court of Appeals panel ignored the very clear case law and precedent and carved out an exception that doesn't exist," Makowski said.
In 2013, the state Supreme Court turned down an appeal and let the decision stand in the Lansing-area library case.