Michigan schools at center of gun debate

LANSING, Mich. – The State Supreme Court is set to hear arguments this week on a controversial issue involving guns at public schools. The high court will hear  two cases Wednesday about whether a person has the right to openly carry on school grounds. Schools in Clio and Ann Arbor  are at the center of this debate, but it affects schools across Michigan. Public schools want the right to set their own guidelines when it comes to open carry and concealed weapons in school buildings.

“Obviously, we don’t believe that individuals should open carry in our school unless they are uniformed officers of law enforcement,” says Fletcher Spears III, Superintendent of Clio Public Schools. “But the bigger issue behind this is the ability of school districts to create their own rules within the law.”

Gun advocates say that goes against their rights and state laws.

“State law allows people to lawfully possess fire arms at schools, says Tom Lambert, President of Michigan Open Carry.

Michigan Open Carry is the group suing Clio Schools for their right to openly carry on school property. It’s an issue that’s been making its way through the court system for years.

“The truth is we’ve had open carry in our schools for a long time. In our case the trial court originally ruled in our favor. Until the court of appeals ruled against us, there were many schools in the state that allowed open carry.”

Michigan law does not allow people to possess a gun inside gun free school zones. But someone with a concealed permit can enter school property with a gun that’s openly holstered. That happened in 2015 at an Ann Arbor High School, the school board responded by banning all guns except for police.

The Clio School District has a similar policy toward guns on campus.

Both sides do seem to agree on one part of the issue, that students need to have the best protection possible, and that gun free zones may not be the answer.

“I firmly believe that we ought to get rid of this notion of gun free schools and put armed law enforcement officers and school resource officers to work with our kids." says Spears.

The case will be heard by the Michigan Supreme Court on Wednesday at noon. They could decide to hear the case and rule on it, or remand it back for further review.

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