Michigan School Carry Issue is Settled: Part Loss, Part Win

Michigan schools can ban firearms, Michigan Supreme Court rules — but it's not all bad news

Published Saturday, August 4, 2018
Gun Rights Watch article by GRW Chief Editor

On Friday, July 27th, Michigan's Supreme Court ruled that school districts have the right to ban firearms on campus, upholding a 2016 ruling by the Michigan Court of Appeals. But, the news isn't all bad — while the high court found that schools are not bound by the state's preemption clause on firearm laws, it was because the school districts themselves are not “local units of government” and therefore are not bound by the same rules.

Unfortunately for these school administrators though, what that also means is that violating the policy is not a violation of any law. Schools are free to force a person found to be carrying a firearm to leave, but the most they can do beyond that is to trespass the gun owner so they can't reenter the school again.

Michigan state law allows people with concealed carry permits to bring guns onto school property, but two districts in Ann Arbor and Clio, Michigan have enacted policies banning weapons. This caused the Michigan Gun Owners group to file a lawsuit against Ann Arbor Public Schools while Michigan Open Carry filed separately against the Clio Area Schools.

Four out of seven justices ruled in favor of the Ann Arbor and Clio school districts last week, but it wasn't in a way that the defendants were hoping for. The Michigan Legislature can obstruct school districts from enacting gun bans but so far it hasn't. The 2016 Michigan Court of Appeals case found that the state's preemption law, “expressly preempts regulation of firearms by a city, village, township, or county; it does not apply to school districts.”

This latest ruling by the high court opens the door for MGO and MOC to lobby the state legislature for a change to the law.