Detroit City Council moves forward with plans to make downtown a "gun-free zone"

AP Photo/Paul Sancya

The Detroit City Council is taking a backwards approach to public safety in the city by seeking to block law-abiding citizens from being able to protect themselves. On Tuesday the council approved a pair of resolutions designed to gut Michigan’s existing firearms preemption law and allow cities to establish their own “gun-free zones”, and council members made it clear that if they get their way much of the city’s downtown area would be off-limits to lawful carry.


“I’ve had people approach me on both sides of the issue. You have the Second Amendment people, the NRA group that’s trying to intimidate me … but I’ve also had senior citizens telling me, ‘Thank you, Ms. Waters, for standing up for us here,’ ” [council member Mary] Waters said Tuesday. “I’m not ignoring my neighborhoods and I don’t think this resolution even suggests that, but it does help us focus on these very large crowds.”

Council passed the two resolutions. The first calls for urging state lawmakers to pass a Senate bill that would give municipalities control over establishing gun-free zones on public grounds and the second calls for drafting a gun-free zone ordinance, complying with existing laws, that would require public or private events of 500 people or more that receive a permit from the city to be established as gun-free zones.

The second resolution also suggests areas like the riverfront, Greektown, Hart Plaza, Spirit Plaza and Campus Martius be designated as gun-free zones. Carrying firearms in places such as churches, schools and stadiums is prohibited, an example Waters used as gun-free zones being anything but “foreign” as they already exist in some capacity.

Though the Detroit Free Press says that several council members were “reluctant” to support the second resolution laying out potential “gun-free zones”, they were apparently willing to go along, at least for now.

District 7 Councilman Fred Durhal III, who co-chairs the gun violence task force, said several of its members are uncomfortable with naming downtown as a primary focus.

“I do think that all of us recognize this as an issue,” Durhal said. “I’m just not comfortable having that say ‘downtown Detroit’ or outlining those specific communities at this time if it’s not applicable to areas like in District 7. … We get the (Detroit Police Department) updates all the time. Most of them (shooting alerts) don’t come from downtown Detroit, they come from in our neighborhoods.”

Waters stressed the downtown area since it serves as a hub for events drawing large crowds.

Member Coleman Young II said violent incidents garnering attention in downtown is not a good look for the city and stressed council should do anything possible with its authority, “starting with this: to make sure that we can actually be able to have the authority necessary to regulate these types of weapons from coming into these areas where people gather.”


Here’s a clue: you don’t have that authority. Even if the Democrat-controlled legislature in Michigan were to repeal the state’s firearm preemption law, there’s no way that “gun-free zones” encompassing entire neighborhoods or the downtown area is going to stand up to court scrutiny.

Even if the constitutional issues didn’t take these kinds of sweeping prohibition on lawful concealed carry off the table, this would still be a supremely stupid move on the part of the Detroit City Council. Every law requires enforcement, and right now Detroit is experiencing a severe lack of uniformed officers. Last year more than 200 officers departed the force, and over 14% of the force has left since 2021. Now the city council wants police to be focused on preventing legal gun owners from being able to protect themselves instead of tasking them with dealing with the violent crime that’s the reason many Detroit residents have chosen to carry a firearm in self-defense in the first place.

It’s idiotic, unconstitutional, and downright dangerous, but its also the Democratic party line these days. We’ll be keeping our eyes on what the state legislature does with Detroit’s request. Given the anti-2A bills that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has already signed into law this year, turning downtown Detroit into a “gun-free zone” could easily find traction at the state capitol, and the city could soon be an even more dangerous place for peaceable citizens.

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