Michigan School’s Legal Battle Over Gun Ownership Rights

Gavel depicting legal battle over gun ownership rights

A battle over gun ownership rights is happening right here in Michigan. Now it’s headed to the Supreme Court. Michigan’s Supreme Court, that is.

It may not be long before our nation’s highest court is hearing cases similar to this one. Repeated gun violence and terrorist threats have resulted in students making a protest across the nation on March 14th. It makes for a more dramatic backdrop for this gun rights battle.

Ann Arbor Public Schools Legal Battle Over Gun Ownership Rights

It started when Ann Arbor Public Schools attempted, essentially, to create a different legal zone on its campuses in terms of gun ownership.

In April 2015, Ann Arbor Public Schools adopted new “dangerous weapon and disruption-free zones” policies for all school property. Gun owners and concealed weapon permit carriers were not to be allowed to remain on school property.

This goes against Michigan law, which allows those who are licensed to carry a concealed weapon. In addition, to have it in a vehicle with them when picking up or dropping off a student at school or openly carry it on school property.

Then Michigan Gun Owners, Inc. and Ulysses Wong (whose children attend Ann Arbor Public Schools) filed a lawsuit 12 days after that, claiming AAPS can’t enforce the “weapons ban.”

Cli School District Legal Battle Over Gun Ownership Rights

A similar lawsuit was brought against Cli School District by Kenneth Herman (whose daughter attended a Clio elementary school) and Michigan Open Carry Inc. over a similar weapons ban which had been in effect since 1996.

The Ann Arbor lawsuit was dismissed, was appealed, and the Michigan Court of Appeals issued a decision in December 2016 upholding the first judge’s decision and siding with the Clio School District as well.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on April 11th from both sides and for both cases. One of three things could happen:

  • The Supreme Court could decide to let the Court of Appeals decisions stand.
  • It could reverse the lower court decisions.
  • It could grant leave for an appeal, in which case it would read further briefings and issue a decision.

Amicus Briefs

One of the things both sides have been asked to do is to file amicus briefs to prepare for the Michigan Supreme Court hearing.

An amicus brief is basically an informational paper, or document, submitted by non-litigants in a trial. These are people who aren’t actually participating in the trial as a plaintiff or defendant. They have an interest in the case and would like to advise the court of relevant additional information or arguments the court might want to consider.

Because of the nature of this case and the national attention it’s gaining, the Michigan Supreme Court is allowing several entities to file amicus briefs.

On the side of the AAPS: Michigan Association of School Boards, the City of Ann Arbor, and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

On the side of Michigan Gun Owners Inc. and Michigan Open Carry Inc.: the Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners Foundation.

One of the main points the Supreme Court will be considering is the issue of which is preemptive. Are the board of education’s policies preempted by state law and case law or not?


What do you think? Should board of education policies rule in this matter, on school grounds at least, when Michigan state law clearly goes against the policy?

Does this effectively set a legal precedent for a small governing body to change the law as it sees fit without going through due process?

Or is the safety of school grounds more important than that? And does banning all weapons on school grounds truly keep them safe?

No doubt these are questions being asked all over the country.