On July 11, the Michigan Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in a case over whether a library can ban weapons. The case, Capital Area District Library (CADL) v. Michigan Open Carry Inc., was decided in favor of the Capital Area District Library last May by the Ingham County Circuit Court.
The library, which serves Ingham County, MI (except East Lansing), bans all weapons “to the fullest extent permitted by law.” The question is, just how full is that extent? Michigan’s Firearm and Ammunition Act of 1990 says local units of government can’t pass laws and regulations on weapons.
Attorney Gary Bender, who represents the library, told WILX.com that authorities that govern library systems, like those that govern sporting arenas, water systems and other similar organizations, are not included in the Firearms Act. The circuit court agreed, issuing a declaratory judgment that the library’s weapons policy is valid, lawful and not preempted by state law. (The judge also entered a permanent injunction against openly carrying firearms into any CADL branch library or property.)
But Dean Greenblatt, attorney for Michigan Open Carry, disagreed with that interpretation. “The City of Lansing and County of Ingham have created a new entity,” Greenblatt argued. “(CADL is) a creation of two entities that could not themselves regulate firearms, and they created an authority that can,” the Lansing State Journal quoted Greenblatt as saying.
If the appeal goes against them, Michigan Open Carry plans to take its case to the state Supreme Court, according to WILX. Elizabeth Breed, marketing director of CADL, said “No decision has been made” about whether the library would do the same. According to Breed, the library has been paying its own costs for the litigation.
In the meantime, the Baldwin Public Library Board in Birmingham, MI, is taking another route to address the same dilemma. At its July 16 meeting, the board voted to send a letter to its state representatives asking the state legislature to add libraries to the list of places that are except from the open carry law, Director Doug Koschik told LJ. That list currently includes banks, places of worship, court, theaters, sports arenas, day care centers, hospitals, and bars. (According to the board the Village Council of Beverly Hills, Baldwin’s largest contracting community, plans to adopt a resolution at its next meeting supporting the library board’s position as well.)
It wouldn’t be the first time the legislature considered such legislation. On March 15, 2011, Representative Joan Bauer introduced HB 4438 and 4439, which would have added libraries to the list of exceptions to the open and concealed carry laws. Neither received a hearing.