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155196 - Michigan Gun Owners, Inc v Ann Arbor Public Schools

Michigan Gun Owners, Inc., and Ulysses Wong,
 
James J. Makowski
 
Plaintiffs-Appellants,
 
v
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)
 
 
(Washtenaw – Kuhnke, C.)
 
Ann Arbor Public Schools, and Jeanice K. Swift,
 
William J. Blaha
David A. Comsa
 
Defendants-Appellees.
 

Summary

The Ann Arbor Public Schools and the Clio Area School District enacted policies to restrict weapons on school grounds. Plaintiffs are gun advocacy organizations and individuals licensed to carry concealed firearms who filed separate lawsuits against the defendant school districts, arguing that the state has preempted the field of firearm regulation and that the school districts cannot adopt their own stricter policies. The school districts respond that there is no preemption because no state statute conflicts with their authority to enact regulations for the safety of their students. They acknowledge that MCL 123.1102 preempts local units of government from adopting firearm ordinances or regulations, but they argue that the statute does not apply to school districts. They also argue that the factors set forth in People v Llewellyn, 401 Mich 314 (1977), do not support a finding of field preemption. Plaintiffs rely on the Court of Appeals opinion in Capital Area Dist Library v Michigan Open Carry, Inc, 298 Mich App 220 (2012) (CADL) (holding that the district library could not enact a firearms ban). They argue that state law preempts local units of government—including school districts—from regulating firearms, and that the Llewellyn factors favor a finding of field preemption. In the Ann Arbor case, the trial court granted summary disposition in favor of the school district, ruling that there was no express preemption under MCL 123.1102, no legislative history supporting preemption, no single body of law or cohesive scheme regulating guns such that preemption could be implied, and that the nature of firearms regulation did not demand exclusive state regulation. In the Clio case, the trial court denied the school district’s motion for summary disposition and granted declaratory relief to plaintiffs, ruling that CADL was controlling, and that the Legislature completely occupied the field of firearms regulation. Both cases were appealed. In separate published opinions released on the same day, the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the school districts. The Supreme Court has ordered separate oral arguments to be heard at the same session on plaintiffs’ applications for leave to appeal to address: (1) whether, in light of MCL 123.1102, it is necessary to address the Llewellyn factors in order to determine whether the school districts’ policies are preempted; and (2) if so, whether the Court of Appeals properly concluded that the Llewellyn factors did not favor preemption.