gun free school zone

(photo: WWJ/Marisa Fusinski)

Michigan Supreme Court Rules Schools Can Ban Guns

July 27, 2018 - 4:21 pm

ANN ARBOR (WWJ) - The Michigan Supreme Court has ruled that schools can ban visitors from carrying guns.

Under Michigan law, local governments must defer to the state Legislature on gun policy. But in a split 4-3 decision Friday, the state's high court said school districts are not units of local government, affirming a decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals.

After the Ann Arbor Public Schools district, back in 2015, refused to admit a parent who showed up to a concert at Pioneer High with a gun strapped to his waist, lawyers for gun owners sued, arguing that public schools can't create restrictions that are tougher than state law.

Per the Supreme Court's decision, the restrictions put into place by the Ann Arbor and Clio school districts at the heart of this case, banning the possession of firearms in schools and at school-sponsored events, will stand.

The local case gained national attention after the mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla., school in February.

Clio Schools superintendent Fletcher Spears was pleased with the ruling, saying it removed a huge burden off the shoulders of teachers and school adminitstrators.

“If you go into a Tractor Supply store and somebody has a weapon, you can turn around and walk out. Kids don’t have that option," Spears told WWJ. "They have to attend school. In my mind, when you put that all together, it’s a distraction, it’s a nuisance that we just simply don’t need.”

Ann Arbor Schools superintendent Jeanice Swift called the decision "a victory for the children of Michigan.”

“We begin with students at two, three years of age, and we educate them all the way through high school graduation and our focus was keeping our students with a comfortable, productive and welcoming school environment," Swift said.

Since the beginning of the case, Spears says he and authorities with the school district felt that the legislature "expressly left schools out as being named a local unit of government," which gave them the ability to enact policies for the safety of students.