School board opposes open carry of firearms in schools

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published December 22, 2013


ROSEVILLE — During its Dec. 16 meeting, the Roseville Community Schools Board of Education approved a resolution in support of prohibiting openly carrying firearms within any school buildings.

Superintendent John Kment said the resolution throws the district’s support behind what he considers a hole in Michigan’s penal code, which does not ban openly carrying guns into schools.

“Unfortunately, there is a void in the present penal code that allows individuals to carry guns into the schools,” Kment said. “This is a resolution that we would like to have passed in order for the Legislature to see that we, as well as school districts throughout the state, oppose that.”

An amendment to House Bill No. 4104, which pertains to gun rights, has been stalled in committee since January.

According to a legal update from the Michigan State Police, under the existing Michigan law, people are allowed to openly carry a firearm as long as they have lawful intent, the gun is not concealed and they do not enter certain designated areas. The action is only legal because no Michigan law prohibits it.

People who possess a concealed weapons permit are allowed to carry an unconcealed firearm at a pistol-free zone, like school property, a day care center, or a sports arena. It is still illegal to carry concealed on those properties, and private property owners legally can ask them to leave; however, schools are public property and are thus excluded.

The Court of Appeals ruled in 1972 in People v. Reynolds that if a weapon is not seen by those casually observing the suspect, it is deemed concealed. Something kept on a holster or belt on the outside of the clothing is legal, but one under the clothes is concealed.

The resolution notes that it is illegal to carry a concealed handgun onto school property, and it prohibits firearms in banks, places of worship, courts, theaters, arenas, hospitals, bars and day care centers, but it does not prohibit openly carrying firearms in schools.

Furthermore, the resolution states that since staff cannot know in advance the intent of someone entering a school with a firearm, it is not safe.

The school’s emergency procedures state that a person entering a school with a firearm could result in a building lockdown, which is disruptive for teaching. However, Kment said that since no law is being broken, police are limited in what they can do to stop it.

“We have had individuals at our school that have carried a gun openly. It’s shaken up parents and frightened students. You can’t carry into a lot of places already,” Kment said. “There’s no reason that a school is not on that list.”

The resolution was adopted in a near unanimous vote, with all present council members voting for it. Secretary Gregory Scott was absent. School board members condemned that gap in the penal code after passing the resolution.

“What is their thinking?” Trustee Kevin Switanowski said. “Of all places, the schools?”

Treasurer Matthew McCartney blamed the National Rifle Association.

“They’ve twisted it around,” he said. “They’re saying it would be a good thing for everybody to be armed. We have a liaison officer and a police officer, and most districts do that now. Why go forward beyond that? Let the people who know what to do, do it.”

The NRA could not be reached for comment by press time.

The resolution will now be sent to state legislators, the Governor’s Office, the Michigan Association of School Boards, the Michigan Association of School Administrators and Macomb County Commissioner Kathy Tocco.