Guns in Schools
Ulysses Wong targets the district's "overreach."
From the June, 2018 issue
"This is about Ann Arbor Public Schools and other 'local units' of government taking power that was not granted to them by the people," district parent Ulysses Wong emails. "I felt a civic duty to step in on this government overreach."
So Wong, who works at Washtenaw Community College, joined the Michigan Gun Owners in suing to overturn the Ann Arbor Public Schools' "no guns" policies. After a student's relative showed up at a concert while openly carrying a pistol, the school board adopted new rules that effectively ban guns from schools and school activities.
Two lower courts dismissed the suit, but it's now before the Michigan Supreme Court. The justices heard oral arguments in April and are expected to issue a decision in June or July.
School board president Christine Stead says that Ann Arbor parents were supportive of the gun ban, but when the policies were being debated "hundreds of people who don't live here came to our board meetings. In one meeting a gentleman arrived late for public commentary. He'd driven three hours, and he wanted to talk. He was yelling at me--and he was carrying" a gun.
Circuit Court judge Carol Kuhnke granted the schools' motion for summary dismissal with prejudice in 2015. The Michigan Court of Appeals upheld her decision in 2016, noting there are "26 different laws specifically referencing 'weapon free school zones.' These four words telegraph an unmistakable objective regarding guns and schools; indeed, we find it hard to imagine a more straightforward expression of legislative will."
But Wong believes that Michigan law permits anyone with a concealed weapon permit to openly carry on school property. And even if the Supreme Court rules in the district's favor, it may not be the end of the fight.
Stead says that the pro-gun Republicans who control the state legislature have three bills targeting school gun bans ready. "They're just sitting tight now," Stead says. "If the Supreme Court rules in our favor, they may advance [legislation] as a retaliatory move."
[Originally published in June, 2018.]
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