With attention to gun control legislation at the forefront of the national conscience, the Michigan Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday over whether schools can trump state law to enact their own firearm restrictions.
Both Ann Arbor Public Schools and Clio Area School District are facing lawsuits by gun rights groups after banning weapons on school grounds in 2015 and 1996, respectively.
State law currently bans guns from weapon-free school zones; however, someone with a concealed pistol permit can enter school property with an openly holstered gun.
The Supreme Court case comes three years after Joshua Wade, an Ann Arbor gun rights activist, openly carried a handgun at his younger sister’s Pioneer High School choir concert. Choir director Steven Lorenz approached Wade and told him his weapon made some uncomfortable at the March 2015 concert and then called the police, who spoke to Wade and confirmed he had a Concealed Pistol License.
Wade was able to stay because Michigan state law allows people with CPL licenses to carry firearms in “pistol-free zones.” But they’re not allowed to conceal them.
A month later, the Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education unanimously voted to ban dangerous weapons from school property.
Twelve days later, Ulysses Wong, whose children attend Ann Arbor Public Schools, and Michigan Gun Owners Inc., filed a lawsuit against the district for being in conflict with state law. The case was dismissed by Washtenaw County Trial Court Judge Carol Kuhnke in September of 2015, affirming the district could prohibit weapons from school property.
The decision was appealed by Michigan Gun Owners, but the Michigan Court of Appeals decided in December 2016 to uphold Judge Kuhnke’s decision.
The Court of Appeals also upheld Clio School District’s right to ban guns from school property after a Genesee County Circuit Court ruled in favor of a gun rights organization and area parent who argued the district’s ban unconstitutional. But the Court of Appeals upheld Clio’s gun restriction policies.
On Wednesday, the state Supreme Court will reopen these cases together and shape the future of gun control in Michigan schools.