The Michigan Supreme Court ruled today that school districts may ban firearms from school grounds.
This ruling comes from two cases, one involving the Ann Arbor school district and one involving the Clio school district, in Genessee County. Both school districts had a policy banning guns from their premises.
Specifically, the policies do not allow “open-carry” weapons. The policies allowed for concealed weapons, though the law restricts concealed weapons on school grounds to in a car and only when picking up or dropping off your child.
The plaintiffs in the case were parents in the school district along with gun rights advocacy groups.
The plaintiffs argued that state law preempted school districts from creating rules to ban or regulate guns. It is true that state government has the ability to create a law saying school districts may not ban guns. However, the Court pointed out that state law has expressly declined to create such a rule.
A law can “preempt” a second law when the law comes from a higher authority than the second law. For example, a state law can preempt a township law in the same way a federal law can preempt a state law. For a good discussion of this, read the medical marijuana opinion in Deruiter v. Township of Byron, where the state marijuana law preempts local zoning law.
In this case, the plaintiffs argued that state law preempted a school district’s rules by implication. The plaintiffs were forced to argue on this ground because no state law explicitly preempts a school district’s rights to ban guns on school grounds.The plaintiffs essentially argued that state law had control over firearms regulation and therefore preempted school district rules. The Court said this argument failed because state law expressly held that the state would not control firearms regulation.
This Supreme Court case arose from two separate cases, one in Washtenaw County and one in Genessee County. The Washtenaw County Court found in favor of the school district, while the Genessee County Court found in favor of the plaintiff. Both cases were appealed. The Court of Appeals upheld the Washtenaw County decision and overturned the Genesee County decision. The case was again appealed to the Supreme Court of Michigan.
What This Case Means
School districts may continue to regulate firearm possession on school grounds. In addition, the case opens the door for school districts to regulate further areas that are unregulated by state law.
This case is captioned as Michigan Gun Owners, Inc and Ulysses Wong v. Ann Arbor Public Schools, Michigan Open Carry, Inc and Kenneth Herman v. Clio Area School District.
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Sam Bernstein is an Ann Arbor Criminal Defense Attorney.
ArborYpsi law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48108.