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Michigan Association of School Boards Files Brief in Support of Ann Arbor Public Schools in Open Carry Matter

The Michigan Association of School Boards has filed an amicus curiae brief in the court case involving the open carry of guns in Ann Arbor’s schools. An amicus curiae brief is, essentially, a brief that the judge may accept and consider while deliberating. In it, MASB’s legal counsel argues that there are several laws in place that clearly ban guns in schools, and the fact that a “loophole” potentially exists that allows CPL holders to openly carry a gun into a school is something that individual districts should be able to address on their own.

“From our perspective, this is a local control issue,” stated Don Wotruba, MASB’s Executive Director. “The law makes school districts specifically responsible for the welfare of their students and gives them the authority to ensure their safety,” he added. “It only stands to reason that each school district should be allowed to develop its own policies on this issue.”

“Every community in the state feels the responsibility of keeping children safe,” said William Blaha, of Collins & Blaha, P.C., the attorney for Ann Arbor Public Schools. “Every local district must have the discretion to decide what is right for their kids and their community, whether they live in Ann Arbor or elsewhere.”

One interesting point is that Michigan’s courts apparently have the local authority to ban all weapons in order to protect courthouse visitors and staff, despite the fact that the same open carry loophole that apparently applies to schools also applies to courtrooms as well. The brief points out that based upon a state Supreme Court Administrative Order, courts throughout the state can ban guns or develop their own alternative policies, all in the name of safety. MASB argues that if such policies are considered necessary to ensure the safety and security of our court system, public school children should enjoy the same protections.

“Right now, the open carry advocates are making the argument, based upon a prior appeals court ruling, that since public libraries cannot legally ban all guns than neither can schools,” noted Joel Gerring, MASB’s Assistant Legal Counsel. “We’re making the point that schools have more in common with courts than public libraries when it comes to concerns over safety and security. If courts have the authority to ban all guns, in all circumstances, due to safety concerns, then schools should have that same authority.”

According to Kacie Kefgen, MASB’s Assistant Director of Legal Services and Labor Relations, “Right now, administrators have the power to tell a visitor that they cannot bring a bag of peanuts into a school, but apparently, have no power to tell that same individual, if they happen to possess a CPL, that they cannot bring in a loaded pistol.”

 “We don’t believe that such a precedent makes sense from a policy standpoint, much less from a common sense standpoint,” she noted. “We filed this brief to make the judge aware that districts all across the state are very interested in this issue and to point out the difficult position this loophole puts our administrators and boards in.”