The Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the University of Michigan’s campus-wide ban on guns in a 2-1 decision Tuesday, saying the ban does not violate the U.S. or state constitutions.
Ann Arbor resident Joshua Wade filed the suit in November 2015 in the Michigan Court of Claims and appealed when Judge Cynthia Stephens granted the University’s motion for summary disposition on the grounds that “the state Constitution grants the university the autonomy to promulgate its own firearms regulation.”
The ban, enacted by the University in 2001, makes all properties owned, leased or controlled by the University weapon-free, providing exceptions for police, military and people with University-issued waivers granted in “extraordinary circumstances.”
In the majority opinion, Judge Mark Cavanagh argued the University’s ban is not subject to preemption by the state of Michigan, as it is not a lower level of government, defined by the state as a city, village, township, or county.
“Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings,” Cavanagh wrote.
In his dissent, Judge David Sawyer agreed with Wade, saying because of the University’s physical layout, which includes many areas open to the general public, it did not have authority to regulate the carrying of guns across its entire campus.
“I leave for another case the questions of defendant’s authority to regulate the possession of firearms by its students or employees, or in areas in which the general public are prohibited access,” Sawyer wrote.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Wade said in his original lawsuit that the ordinate amounts to a “restriction on a person’s ability to possess a firearm.”
Wade caused a similar controversy in March 2015, when he openly carried a gun into an Ann Arbor high school choir concert. Following the incident, the Ann Arbor Board of Education enacted a policy banning guns in its schools.
University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the ban was necessary for the safety of the people the University serves.
“We are pleased that the court has upheld the University’s reasonable limits regarding weapons on our campuses,” he said. “This is an important component to ensuring the safety of all members of our community, including students, faculty, staff, patients and the hundreds of thousands of other people who visit our campuses each year.”
Public Policy senior Rowan Conybeare, the chair of the University’s chapter of College Democrats, expressed the organization is happy about the decision.
“We are very pleased to hear that the Court upheld the gun ban on campus,” she wrote in a message to the Daily. “It is an unnecessary, dangerous law that would put students and community members at risk.”
This article has been updated to include a comment from College Democrats.
College Republicans did not respond at the time of publication.