U of M gun ban stands ⋆
The University of Michigan’s weapons ban still holds, the Michigan Court of Appeals decided last week, despite an eight-year-long legal fight to allow open carry on campus.
The lawsuit, originally filed in December 2015 by local resident Joshua Wade, asserts that the university’s weapons ban violates the Second Amendment. The Court of Appeals opinion echoes its previous opinion in summer 2017 in the case by deciding that U of M is a school and therefore a “sensitive place” where the regulation of firearms is legal.
The case had made its way to the state Supreme Court, but was remanded last November to the appeals court following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last summer to strike down New York’s requirement that gun owners needed to show special need for protection to carry in public.
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The opinion published Thursday by Court of Appeals Judges Mark Cavanagh and Deborah Servitto says that the university has presented several arguments detailing public safety concerns and how the presence of firearms on campus can impede learning and the flow of ideas protected under the first amendment.
Arguments that guns would work against the university’s responsibility to educate students from Brady: United Against Gun Violence and the Giffords Law Center to prevent Gun Violence, both non-profit organizations working to address gun violence, were cited in the Appeals Court opinion. The case has several pro-gun and pro-gun control groups involved.
Striking down the university’s ban on weapons would make it an outlier in higher education in the state, the Michigan Attorney General’s office argued in a brief in the case in 2021.
“Ignoring the Supreme Court’s recognition that ‘sensitive places’ can bear prohibitions on firearms would extend the Second Amendment beyond its constitutional mooring,” the brief said. “And it would be at odds with the judicial deference afforded to local governments, particularly those governing sensitive places.”
The Michigan Supreme Court order kicking the case back to the appeals court keyed in on the “sensitive places” argument noting that one-tenth of the whole city of Ann Arbor is taken up by the school, connected by other businesses and streets that don’t necessarily meet the “sensitive places” threshold.
The university argued that it counts as a “sensitive place” as a school where a ban on firearms was permitted back in 2017 and the appeals court agreed. Last week, the court reaffirmed that decision.
Wade argued that guns can be used to increase public safety and any arguments made about concerns of violence, alcohol abuse and suicide relate to the students of the university and not to him as an individual interested in carrying on campus, according to the opinion. Gun Owners of America, a nonprofit gun lobbying group, argued that the ban essentially creates an unjust ban on the rest of Ann Arbor, the university’s main campus, as university affiliated buildings are scattered across the city.
Whether gun bans work in the interest of public safety or not — a debate that is still ongoing in Michigan — the appeals court maintains that the university, as a school, can implement a weapons ban.
“Clearly, the efficacy of gun bans as a public safety measure is a matter of debate. However, because the University is a school, and thus a sensitive place, it is up to the policy-maker — the University in this case — to determine how to address that public safety concern,” the decision reads.
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authored by Anna Liz Nichols
First published at https%3A%2F%2Fmichiganadvance.com%2F2023%2F07%2F24%2Fcourt-of-appeals-u-of-m-gun-ban-stands%2F