Victory for open carriers

By Andy Balaskovitz
Illustration by Vince Joy

State Court of Appeals reverses Circuit Court ruling on the Capital Area District Library’s ability to regulate guns

Friday, Oct. 26 — “Cloud nine” is how the president of Michigan Open Carry described his emotions upon learning of a state Court of Appeals ruling today involving the Capital Area District Library’s ability to regulate guns in libraries.

A three-judge appellate court panel overturned Circuit Judge Rosmarie Aquilina’s ruling in 2011 that allowed CADL to regulate what type of weapons come in and out of the library. CADL successfully won a permanent injunction against open carriers at the time after at least five instances of Michigan Open Carry members openly carried handguns through the downtown Lansing library. In another instance, an 18-year-old man carried a shotgun over his shoulder, though open carry representatives have said he was not affiliated with the group.

“This case is not only a victory for Michigan Open Carry or open carriers, but rather a victory for all people who choose to carry a gun for self-defense in Michigan,” Michigan Open Carry President Phillip Hofmeister said in an interview today.

CADL’s weapons policy had said: “All weapons are banned from Library premises to the fullest extent permitted by law.”

The Court of Appeals ruling said that Michigan law does not allow local units of government to regulate firearms, unless otherwise provided by federal or state law.

“Although district libraries are not expressly included within the definition of a local unit of government … because we are dealing with regulation by a quasi-municipal governmental agency in an area that is regulated by the state, we are bound to apply Michigan’s doctrine of field preemption in discerning whether a district library is free to regulate firearm possession,” the ruling says.

It’s uncertain whether CADL plans to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. Gary Bender, an attorney representing CADL, could not be reached for comment.

Hofmeister issued a message on Michigan Open Carry’s Facebook page today urging members to not go back to the library “in mass to make a scene or a circus. We feel this would be a poor reflection on all open carriers and all guns owners.”