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Ann Arbor school board weighs gun ban

Kate Wells
Michigan Radio

UPDATE: We've added the actual policies that the board is considering below.

Ann Arbor's school board met last night to consider banning guns on campus.

It's been weighing the question since a gun-rights advocate named Joshua Wade wore a gun to a high school concert. In Michigan, it’s legal to openly carry a gun in schools so long as you have a concealed pistol license.  

About a dozen parents spoke out publicly in support of the ban.

Wade was there too, once again openly carrying his weapon, to warn the board that it would be sued if the ban passes.

Meanwhile, the board’s legal experts have been advising members on how to put together a ban that might be able to stand up in court.  

According to board president Deb Mexicotte, it comes down to a “three prong” legal approach.

1)    Schools have a legal obligation to keep students safe;

2)    Courts have given schools a lot of leeway to restrict rights – like free speech – if there’s reason to believe that exercising those rights would lead to serious disruption;

3)    State guidelines for schools about emergency planning say that somebody with a gun on campus constitutes an emergency.

Credit Kate Wells / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
People in support of the gun ban

Still, Mexicotte says, “this is a place where there’s tension between the laws” as to whether someone can legally carry a gun on campuses.

And you don’t have to look far to see a Michigan school district that was sued for passing a similar ban: Clio Township reportedly wouldn’t let a parent pick up his daughter because he was openly carrying a pistol, and that man is now suing the district for violating his rights.  

The Ann Arbor school board is expected to vote on the issue at its April meeting.

Here are the actual policies that the board is currently considering. As you can tell, they're still a work in progress. 

Draft of potential new school safety policies. 

Draft of potential new school safety, injury & emergencies policy.

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health and the COVID-19 pandemic.
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