The Michigan Supreme Court issued a ruling on Friday concerning the issue of open carry on school campuses. In a 4-3 decision, the court determined school districts have the right to form new policies denying Michiganders with a concealed-carry license the ability to open carry on school grounds.
The plaintiffs in the case, those who support open carry in schools, argued Michigan state law preempts school districts from establishing such a policy.
However, Michigan’s Supreme Court ruled that, because state law specifically states what constitutes a “local unit of government,” entities not on the preemption list, like school districts, can create their own rules.
In April, Fox News reported this case stemmed from a 2015 incident where a parent brought a gun to a school function, scaring parents, staff, and others in attendance. The situation resulted in school districts banning people from openly carrying firearms on campus, though it did make an exception for law enforcement officers. As Fox News mentioned in its piece, Michigan law prohibits individuals from carrying a firearm in established gun-free zones unless it’s “openly holstered.”
In his concurring opinion, Justice David F. Viviano stated that neither the plaintiff nor the defendant argued the policies implemented by the Clio and Ann Arbor school districts were constitutional or unconstitutional. The question at hand was “whether the school policies directly conflict with a state law and are therefore preempted by it.”
Justice Bridget M. McCormack, responsible for writing the majority opinion, stated, “The Legislature has, expressly, restricted some but not all local governments from regulating firearms. Schools, in particular, are not on the preempted list, quite possibly for reasons not difficult to imagine.”
Though the court ruled school districts can create a policy banning open carry, it doesn’t mean the ruling has put an end to the discussion of teachers or parents carrying firearms on campus.
Justice McCormack explained the law could change if the state legislature passed new legislation.
“Of course, if the Legislature in its wisdom sees fit to allow open firearms on all school grounds, no matter what local school districts may variously desire, it can say so,” she wrote.
The Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling comes as state legislatures across the country debate allowing school teachers to carry in classrooms. Following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February, Second Amendment proponents have argued allowing teachers to be armed would be an effective, last line of defense against potential school shooters.