Michigan Supreme Court to review Ann Arbor, Clio school district gun bans

Court of Appeals upheld the ban in 2016, but new briefs ordered

Credit: Pexels.com
Credit: Pexels.com

ANN ARBOR – The Michigan Supreme Court will take a closer look at the Ann Arbor Public Schools' gun ban on school properties. 

The court said Thursday it would consider an application for leave to appeal a Dec.15, 2016 Court of Appeals ruling upholding the Ann Arbor gun ban. The Court of Appeals also upheld a gun ban in the Clio Area School District. Both bans will be reviewed in “Mini Oral Argument on the Application," or MOAA, case ordered by the Michigan Supreme Court. 

"We are very pleased that the Michigan Supreme Court has decided that our case deserves another look," said Tom Lambert, president of Michigan Open Carry, Inc, which is leading the lawsuit against the Clio school district. "We feel the appellate panel erred significantly and we look forward to explaining how at the next level."

The Ann Arbor School District voted to ban guns on school grounds in 2015, prompting a lawsuit by Michigan Gun Owners, Inc. and Ulysses Wong. 

The Michigan Association of School Boards was invited to file a supporting brief in the case. 

According to the ruling, the two sides have six weeks to file briefs responding to the 2016 Court of Appeals ruling. Following arguments in the MOAA case, the Michigan Supreme Court can grant or deny the appeal, issue a preemptory order or issue an opinion. 

Lambert said his group believes banning guns in schools puts students in jeopardy.

"Many schools across the state have been ignoring state law and we believe they are doing so to the detriment of the safety of their students," Lambert said. "Words on paper are not going to stop someone intent on violence. A victory in court would help us put an end to having to continue learning that lesson the hard way."

The Ann Arbor School District passed the gun ban in 2015 on unanimous vote. 

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In a statement at the time, the board said the changes are designed to protect students and district employees from potential acts or threats of violence. The ban applied to property owned or leased by Ann Arbor Public Schools.

"Our teachers and school leaders have incredible responsibility already, how can we possibly determine the intention of a gun-carrier on campus, to sort out the ‘good' guys from those with malicious intent?" Superintendent Dr. Jeanice Swift said in 2015. "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 policy does not apply to law enforcement officers, but includes all other individuals. 

The Ann Arbor School Board passed the ban in 2015 after Joshua Wade openly carried a gun into Pioneer High School during a choir concert. 

Michigan law allows anyone with lawful intent to carry a gun in public, even in no-gun zones, as long as it's not concealed. Concealed carry permit holders are not allowed to carry concealed guns in no-gun zones.

A bill passed by the Michigan Senate in November would flip the existing law, banning open-carry in no-gun zones, but allowing concealed carry. The proposal would also prevent school districts from banning concealed carry guns on school properties. The House is now considering the legislation. 

Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed a similar bill in 2012.