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Open carry at school? Michigan Supreme Court, public schools debate legal loophole

The Michigan Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday about whether schools should be allowed to ban open carry on their properties. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A Michigan law is worded in such a way that it prohibits concealed carry of a firearm in schools, but allows people with concealed permits to openly carry on school grounds.

The interpretation of that law — and the authority of schools to establish stricter regulations within it — are up for debate as the Michigan Supreme Court hears arguments in a lawsuit by gun owners against Michigan schools, according to The Associated Press.

What’s the story?

In 2015, a man with a concealed-carry permit brought a gun to a concert at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School, scaring some in attendance.

After that, the school board banned everyone except law enforcement from carrying guns on school grounds.

Gun rights advocates sued two school districts over gun bans that they believe run contrary to state law.

“State law allows people to lawfully possess firearms at schools,” Tom Lambert, president of Michigan Open Carry, said, according to WWMA-TV.

The case finally made it all the way to the state Supreme Court on Wednesday after years of working through the system.

What did the justices say?

The Michigan Supreme Court justices seemed split on how the law should be applied as they questioned lawyers representing the schools and the gun rights advocates, AP reported.

Chief Justice Stephen Markman indicated that the issue is clear based on how the law is written, and that schools cannot override the wording that allows for legal open carry.

Justice Richard Bernstein favored a strict constructionist argument that the law didn’t specifically bar schools from regulating guns on their properties.

Justice Bridget McCormack said a law can allow open carry but a school should still be able to set a policy saying it does not want open carry.

What now?

After Wednesday’s hearing, the Michigan Supreme Court will decide whether to hear the case and rule on it, or remand it back to the appeals court for further review.

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