The great thing about preemption is that it means there’s not some patchwork of laws all over the state. It means that if you do something that’s legal in one part of the state, then travel to another part of the state, you’re still golden. Believe me, that matters.
However, local governments and government authorities often try to find ways to claim that the preemption laws don’t apply to them. They want to create new gun control rules and screw the state.
In Michigan, an arena authority that thought they could do that was just slapped down for their efforts.
Last week, a three judge panel for the Michigan Court of Appeals issued a ruling in MOC & MGO v. CAA & SMG (the Grand Rapids arena authority). In the opinion, the court affirmed that the authority is preempted local unit of government subject to MCL 123.1101 et seq. as held in CADL v. MOC.
If you recall, in 2016, members of MOC and MGO were asked to disarm or leave a women’s expo in Grand Rapids at which the groups had leased a booth. The groups tried in vein to speak with management, whom only dug their heels in, leaving the groups no choice but to file suit. Last summer, the trail court agreed with MOC and MGO causing the arena authority to appeal.
However, while the preempted status of the arena authority was clear to the court, much was not. In what has been characterized as an opinion in search of a case, the court analyzed hypothetical facts not at issue. Even though no one was carrying concealed, the court ruled that the authority may regulate concealed carry in so far as it is already regulated under state law (MCL 28.425o) – something we did not dispute preempted entities may do. Further, even though the private event promoter was fine with us there, and had no policy regarding weapons, the court ruled that the arena authority can enforce private lessee policies, despite the clear language of 123.1102.
Basically, the court addressed things that were not relevant to the events that lead to the suit.
Despite the court doing it’s level best to find things to rule against us on, the court ultimately had to agree with us when it came to our purpose for being there;
Courts sometimes do that, but in this case, I suspect it was to try and prevent further litigation to find the edges of the law.
Regardless, it’s an important win for Michigan gun owners. While the court may have wanted to rule against them, it didn’t. That’s because preemption works and tends to be clear. The arena authority crossed the line and they got their hands slapped for it.
It’s not as much of a slap as was deserved, mind you, but a win is a win. Take them where you can get them. Especially with gun rights where the stakes are so high.
In this case, though, it’s not a small win, despite it being just an arena authority. After all, the ruling also applies to any other authority who thinks the law doesn’t apply to them in Michigan.