Michigan libraries can't ban guns, court of appeals rules
(www.freep.com) By Paul Egan LANSING — Though it said the idea of people openly carrying weapons into libraries is “alarming,” libraries can’t ban weapons, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled today. In a 2-1 decision, the court said it’s up to the state, not local government units, to regulate matters related to firearms. “Certainly, at a time where this country has witnessed tragic and horrific mass shootings in places of public gathering, the presence of weapons in a library where people of all ages — particularly our youth — gather is alarming and an issue of great concern,” Judges Jame Beckering and Henry William Saad said in the majority opinion.
However, guns are a matter for the state to regulate while complying with the federal constitution, the judges said.
The case arose after members of Michigan Open Carry — a group which seeks to educate the public about the legality of openly carrying handguns in public — began openly carrying weapons at the Capital Area District Library in Lansing.
“One occasion allegedly involved a person carrying a shotgun,” the court said.
The library has a policy that bans weapons. When some members of Michigan Open Carry refused to leave when asked, “the Lansing police refused to remove the person without a court order,” the court said.
State law bans most people from carrying weapons in banks, churches, hospitals, schools and other places, but not libraries. Some open carry advocates say even that ban applies only to the concealed carrying of weapons, which – unlike carrying weapons for all to see – requires a special permit.
The Ingham County Circuit Court upheld the district library’s weapons ban, but the appeals court said today the policy exceeds the district library’s authority.
“We are obligated to interpret and apply the law, regardless of whether we personally like the outcome,” the judges said.
Allowing local governments to regulate firearms could lead to an unworkable patchwork of different rules around the state, they said.
In a dissent, Judge Elizabeth Gleicher said the library had the authority to ban weapons.
Libraries in Dearborn and elsewhere have been following the case with interest.
A bill is before the Legislature to add libraries to the list of places where weapons can’t be carried.
Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or firstname.lastname@example.org