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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Friday, March 13, 2015

Open Carry Gun Laws and Public Schools

Although we have not done so lately, this blog has posted on Supreme Court cases testing the scope and parameters of the Second Amendment.  The right to bear arms is one of those bedrock principles in our constitution that many citizens hold to be as sacred as our First Amendment right to free speech.

Two years ago, we tracked a piece of legislation addressing Michigan's "open carry" law in this post.  Then, the issue was Governor Snyder's veto of expansive gun legislation in the wake of the Newtown, CN school massacre.

There is a so-called "loophole" in Michigan's gun laws which allows someone with a valid concealed pistol license to "open carry" a weapon on school grounds.  Guns are otherwise banned on school property.

Today, the open carry "loophole" is back in the news as gun activists have staged incidents this week involving the display of their weapons in and around public schools; one incident was in Ann Arbor and the other was in Madison Heights.  Both events caused grave concern among school administrators and local law enforcement and drew plenty of media attention.

Twice this week at Lamphere High School, a gun-toting activist -an unemployed former Marine- attempted to enter school grounds but was rebuffed by the Madison Heights PD.  He sported a rifle slung on one shoulder, holstered a semi-automatic pistol, and had a video camera to record the ruckus strapped to his chest.  For their part, school administrators, taking no chances, locked down the high school during the two incidents.

Meanwhile, at Ann Arbor's Pioneer High School, a gun activist attended a school concert with a pistol strapped to his side. This led to a packed meeting of the Ann Arbor school board and the passage of a strongly-worded resolution calling for legislators to close this loophole.

In our free society, there are always going to be individuals that test the limits of our rights. With all of the school shootings that have occurred over the past few decades, these recent events highlight the intersection between basic school safety and our constitutional right to bear arms.

We here at the Law Blogger believe that, considering the hundreds of children that have been shot at, wounded and killed at their schools, perhaps our state legislature should act to close this loophole. We believe that public safety concerns outweigh the right to bear arms on school grounds and that these valid concerns justify a properly tailored restriction to the open carry laws.

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Anonymous Brian said...

Bizarre to even think that there are still schools out there without policies restricting firearms on school grounds-- can't imagine many people wouldn't view updated safety legislation as win-win.

March 13, 2015 at 9:31 AM 
Anonymous Jim Makowski said...

Mr. Flynn, I couldn't disagree with you more.

First and foremost, there is not an "open carry loophole" despite what some may think. It has been legal to openly carry a firearm in this state since well before Michigan relaxed its concealed pistol laws. Calling it a "loophole" simply demonstrates your ignorance of the issue.

Second, Michigan has some of the harshest and most restrictive firearms laws in the country, despite what some may think. In Michigan it is a FIVE YEAR FELONY to carry a loaded pistol in a motor vehicle without a license. California, with its well-know anti-gun laws, treats this as a MISDEMEANOR. Open Carry activists are simply trying to shed light on the need for change here. In states with more reasonable gun laws such protests simply do not occur.

Third, what about taking away the right of law-abiding citizens to have a firearm in a school do you think will make children safer? Will the next Adam Lanza suddenly decide that he cannot shoot up a school because it would be a crime for him to take his gun on school property? This line of thinking is, quite simply, flawed.

Instead of removing the ability from law abiding citizens to possess firearms at schools a much better solution would be to allow those with concealed pistol licenses to have the option to carry their guns concealed while on school property. This would eliminate the distraction caused by those who have no choice but to Open Carry on school property if they wish to maintain the ability to protect themselves.

James J. Makowski,
Corporation Counsel & Legislative Director, Michigan Gun Owners, Inc.

March 13, 2015 at 1:27 PM 
Anonymous Robert Lindahl said...

And not one of those children were shot by a licensed CPL holder or open carry activist. In fact many of them could have been saved if one of use was on site when it happened. Come to think of it the last time I researched CPL holders and sportsmen have been convicted of less crimes than lawyers.

March 16, 2015 at 12:04 AM 
Blogger The Law Blogger said...

Mr. Makowski,

Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to our post. While we may disagree, especially with your assessment that our use of the term "loophole" demonstrates ignorance, you raise some valid points on a very controversial issue. Together, I believe we have advanced public discourse on this important topic.

March 16, 2015 at 4:48 PM 

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