Wednesday, February 23,2011
Who makes the rules?
The attorney for the Capital Area District Library says the library has a case to back its weapons policy
by Andy Balaskovitz
The duel between the Capital Area District Library and gun rights advocates has moved to a new venue: Ingham County Circuit Court.
CADL was granted a temporary restraining order last week against members of the gun rights advocacy group Michigan Open Carry, whose members have repeatedly challenged the library’s weapons policy by openly carrying pistols and even a shotgun into the downtown branch. The library wants an injunction against group members and affiliates, barring them from openly carrying guns in any one of CADL’s 13 branches.
Since Dec. 11, there have been at least six incidences of people openly carrying guns in the downtown CADL branch. The library’s weap- ons policy allows valid Concealed Pistol License holders to carry concealed their weapons, but it does not allow any weapons to be out in the open. The issue in court will be whether CADL can have such a policy. Michigan Open Carry contends that a 1990 state law prevents local units of government from instituting such policies.
But under that law, CADL’s attorney Gary Bender says that, as an “authority,” the library is exempt.
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In 2002, the city of Ferndale adopted an ordinance that banned weapons on city property. The Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners sued the city. The case made it to the state Supreme Court, which ruled the city’s ordinance was illegal. Michigan Open Carry members cite the case as precedence.
But Bender says the Ferndale case doesn’t apply here in Lansing.
“That was a city, and they do fall under the Firearms and Ammunitions Act,” he said. “We are not a city, township, village or county.”
Mike Stollenwerk, co-founder of the nationwide “Internet community” OpenCarry.org, said via e-mail from Fairfax County, Va. that he has never seen a temporary restraining order against a group of open carriers.
“Usually there is some resistance, then the governmental units finally accept reality,” he said. “I am surprised that the court issued the temporary restraining order without a hearing since even the Authority admits that there is a clear preemption statute which potentially bars the authority from banning gun carry — courts are usually cautious in overruling legislative acts.”
“I think they (the library) are looking to get the issue resolved in a way that lets them save face,” he added.
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