Schools Grapple with Open Carry Firearms in Michigan


A school district in Michigan has voted to appeal a decision handed down by a judge stating that a father has the right to openly carry his pistol inside his daughter’s elementary school.

The board of education for the Genesee County school district met earlier this week and unanimously voted to appeal the case to the Michigan Court of Appeals.  The case is not the first to hit the state, as a number of school districts have chosen to assert their right to have a gun-free school zone.

On Monday, Circuit Judge Archie Hayman ruled in favor of Kenneth Herman and the gun-rights advocacy group Michigan Open Carry.  Herman had filed a lawsuit earlier in the year against the school district after not being allowed on school grounds on several occasions when trying to pick up his daughter.  According to school officials, Herman was not allowed access to the school because he was openly carrying his gun.

State law does allow citizens who carry a concealed-pistol permit to openly carry their firearms on school grounds.  However, Tim Mullens, the attorney representing the district, noted that the law also allows school districts to create policies establishing the “safety and protection of students.”

“Mr. Herman was licensed to do what he did under state law. But the school district said, ‘No, we’re going to come up with a policy, a regulation that is more restrictive than state law.’ That, they of course can’t do,” said Dean G. Greenblatt, the attorney for Herman and Michigan Open Carry, which was also part of the lawsuit.

Greenblatt said that any changes made to the firearm law needs to be made at the state level, adding that school district boards do not have the authority to make such decisions.

The district superintendent added that action is needed on the part of the Legislature in order to remove any ambiguity within the law offering some the right to carry a gun openly on school grounds.

“The Legislature needs to step up and get the focus on education, and not on some guy who wants to carry a gun in a school,” Fletcher Spears, the superintendent for the Clio Area School District, told the Free Press today.

Spears added that schools will continue to go on lockdown when a gun is spotted on school grounds because they need to determine the intent of the individual carrying the weapon.  “Whether they can isn’t the issue, it’s whether they should,” Spears said.