Michigan Campus Carry

Michigan Campus Carry

This is a discussion on Michigan Campus Carry within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; This is mostly for Michigan people, but I guess everyone else can chime in and give an opinion on my research. Mods, please move if ...

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Thread: Michigan Campus Carry

  1. #1
    New Member Array spartywrx's Avatar
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    Question Michigan Campus Carry

    This is mostly for Michigan people, but I guess everyone else can chime in and give an opinion on my research.

    Mods, please move if I'm in the wrong area.

    First of, IANAL!

    Second my sources:
    AG - Attorney General Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox’s web site. Click opinions, then search for, then search for Numbers 7075 and 5325.

    Biennial Report of the Attorney General, 1955. Opinon No 2227. Good luck finding No 2227 online. Invest in a library card.

    Michigan constitution, article 8 section 5


    Anti-Firearms ordinances that I am challenging can be found on:
    U-M Board of Regents’ web site
    MSU Board of Trustees’ web site
    WSU Board of Governors’ web site



    So I did some research into the legality of MSU, U-M, and WSU’s (the “constitutional three” or “C3”) anti firearm ordinances. I will address U-M’s (I bleed green) directly but the others have very similar ordinances. U-M’s policy states that no one (not just students, anyone) may possess a firearm on property controlled by the Board of Regents, including anyone with a valid Concealed Pistol License. They are very clear about this. The ordinance can be found on their Board of Regent’s website. So even if you have your CPL, you can’t even walk across campus while carrying. Pretty draconian, eh? So what gives them this power? The Michigan Constitution of 1963. They are set up as a “body corporate” in the state constitution, and the Board of Trustees/Regents/Governors are given controlling power over their respective Universities. This power includes the power to make ordinances/laws/rules, such as the ban on CPL holders. These can be enforced as any other law can. An interesting question to ask though, since the C3 are allowed to make their own ordinances and rules, what is stopping them from making jaywalking punishable by imprisonment and making red lights the signal for proceed and green for stop? Is the ban on CPL holders carrying legal? Basically, can they tell Lansing to shove it?

    Through my research on this issue (while I should be studying for my upcoming test) I have found three attorney general opinions on this subject, Nos 2227, 5326, 7075. Each opinion cites lawsuits that also deal with the odd nature of the C3. Not being a lawyer, I did not delve into each lawsuit. Since the AG who wrote each opinion based it off of the lawsuits he/she cited in forming the opinion, I am assuming that the AG got the interpretation of the lawsuit correct. Each of these opinions concerns itself with how laws passed by the state legislature interact with the C3. No 7075 is an opinion regarding whether or not a township may tax one of the C3 for fire protection. Granholm (then AG) states that they may not do this, and dives into some legal mumbo jumbo that is not relevant to my discussion. She does state that “The constitutional autonomy granted to the three named universities in Const 1963, art 8, § 5, primarily concerns educational and financial matters…This autonomy, however, does not exempt these institutions from the realm of state law or allow them to thwart the public policy of the state.” This paragraph would make a compelling argument that the C3 are not exempt from the legislature’s firearm laws, of wherein the CPL statue resides. The C3 could not pass an ordinance saying that you may posses a short-barreled rifle on campus, as this is currently illegal under state law (even with the NFA stamp).

    No 5326 states that “A college dormitory is subject to the provisions of the State Housing Law.” It goes on to cite how the universities are indeed subject to state law when state law was “enacted to promote the health, safety and welfare of the people.” This is why MSU cannot just make up its own laws that contradict the state law. One would assume that all other laws not related to how the university finances or operates would also be in effect. Thus the firearms laws of the state would apply and trump the C3 ordinance.

    No 2227 addresses the ultimate issue, of whether or not the C3 are an “island” separate from laws made by the legislature, and may make their own laws. (Sidenote that No 2227 cannot be found online, and must be found in a library. I searched for a while and could not come up with anything before 1963 online. If you’re near a library that has one of those “government depository” signs, it most likely has it. Every year the AG has to publish all of his/her opinions and give a copy to the Legislature. Copies are put in libraries under the name “Biennial Report of the Attorney General.” Ask your friendly pony-tailed librarian for help finding it. They are extremely helpful. I found a copy at the Wayne State Law Library.) No 2227 references the old 1908 constitution, but the language concerning the C3 from that constitution was pretty much preserved in the 1963 constitution, so I’m assuming that this opinion would not be changed. Also, Nos 5326 and 7075 cite 2227, so I’m guessing its still valid. The opinion basically said that when it comes to the operation (granting degrees, granting tenure, organizing departments, hiring professors) and finance (tuition, investments, endowments, etc) of the university, the legislature can not tell the C3 what to do: “Attorney General ruled that a statute requiring the faculty of the Michigan Agricultural College (now MSU) to adopt rules governing the discipline of the college was an unconstitutional invasion by the legislature of the exclusive authority of the governing board over the college.” The AG states that the universities are subject to state law. He also states that state law may not infringe upon their right to self operate and make their own finance rules.

    So, from my research, the C3 are free to make rules as to how the university is run and how it handles it money. Concerning all other matters though (health, safety, welfare) the state law is superior. The concealed pistol law, and to a greater degree any law about firearms in the Michigan Compiled Laws, concern the health, safety and welfare of the people, and is not part of the operations or finance of the university. Using this argument, state law trumps the ordinance banning possession of a weapon by a CPL holder, since regulating firearms is not related to the operations or finance of the University.

    My personal opinion is that an AG opinion on this specific subject or a lawsuit would be needed to finally resolve this issue and change the laws. I do not carry and do not intend to carry on any campus until this issue is resolved. I do not want to be a defendant and you shouldn’t try to be one either. I strongly encourage you to critique my analysis and go check my sources and see if I know what I’m talking about. Only by knowing the laws will we be able to change these ordinances. I would like to state that I AM NOT A LAWYER and THIS OPINION IS MINE PERSONALLY AND IS NOT TO BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE. This is a result of my own research and I may have missed out on something important and my argument may be totally incorrect. Also, there may have been developments in the status of the C3 that I may be unaware of. The last AG opinion is dated 2001, so something may have happened between then and now that kills my argument. There are numerous other AG opinions that deal with applying state law to the C3 that I only skimmed through, but it seems that they support my conclusions. My research only pertains to the C3 and not any of the other universities and colleges in Michigan (only the ones mentioned in Article 8 section 5 of the Michigan Constitution of 1963. Article 8 section 6 covers the rest).

    I also apologize for any grammar mistakes and writing style. I’m a science type, not a poet.

    I hope this kicks off discussion


  2. #2
    VIP Member Array Cupcake's Avatar
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    Very interesting, I never knew that their policies could have the force of law (and I work at one of these places) and I would think that MI pre-emption law is is the nail in their coffin on this one. MCRGO vs Ferndale proved that municipalities MAY NOT enforce laws that are stricter than the state laws in regards to firearms. While they are not a municipality, "subject to state law" should make pre-emption just as applicable. That mean that they cannot ban open carry, or carrying in municipal buildings or libraries.
    Since your research finds that these properties are subject to MI law, I think their laws are worth less than the toilet paper that I...(uhh, nevermind. TMI)

    That said, state law still prohibits classrooms and dormitories. I'm still subject to employee policy and the penalty for violating this is far greater to me than the states' penalty.

    It would, however, be great to have this clarified. Walking around the campus I work on is just like being in a huge flock of sheep. It'd be nice if the scumbags that frequently rob people here feel a little less comfortable.

    Oh, and at the top you list AG opinion 5325...you must've meant 5326?
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    While you may be correct in your interpretation, I wouldn't want to be the test case. Whoever decided to challenge this in court is looking at spending hundreds of thousands of dollars. Perhaps your MI Gun Owners Organization could take them to task on it.
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    New Member Array spartywrx's Avatar
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    Cupcake

    Yep, I probably meant 5326. The whole pre-emption this is iffy, because the law does not say it applies to the C3, only local governments. The C3 are considered above local governments, but not below the legislature. Opinion 7075 says that the taxing of public lands is not in the law, which means it does not apply to MSU. Granholm says it could apply to MSU, if the legislature amends the law. My argument is that MCL 123.1102 (preemption) is not needed, since the C3 can not make their own rules unless it concerns finance or operations. But it could be amended to include "local governments and all divisions of the state." That would include the C3. I'll try to find a lawyer to argue this with and see how it goes, and start writing letters after my exams are over. I heard that the MCRGO is looking at this, but I think that's just a rumor.

    And I know what you mean about feeling unsafe on some campuses. I think I got 3 emergency text messages and 2 crime alerts in the past week.

    Oh and I forgot to say that the traditional "gun free zones" are still legal. I'm not challenging those.

    Ok off to school I go.

  5. #5
    Member Array Spike32's Avatar
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    You need to get a grassroots movement going to get the AG to issue an opinion on this subject. That's what VCDL did in VA with concealed carry in State Parks, and got the ordinance restricting carry dropped.
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  6. #6
    Distinguished Member Array T Bone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spartywrx View Post
    Oh and I forgot to say that the traditional "gun free zones" are still legal. I'm not challenging those.

    Ok off to school I go.
    Doesn't the "traditionial gun free zone" specified as "schools" include colleges?

    MSP - Pistol Free Areas
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  7. #7
    VIP Member Array Cupcake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T Bone View Post
    Doesn't the "traditionial gun free zone" specified as "schools" include colleges?

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    Nope. Buildings specifically intended for educating adults are not included in "schools." However, Classrooms and dormitories of a college or university are specifically prohibited. This means that a great deal of most campuses are legal to carry in, such as student centers, recreation facilities, courtyards, libraries, to name a few.
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    Member Array Kovernm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cupcake View Post
    Nope. Buildings specifically intended for educating adults are not included in "schools." However, Classrooms and dormitories of a college or university are specifically prohibited. This means that a great deal of most campuses are legal to carry in, such as student centers, recreation facilities, courtyards, libraries, to name a few.

    The attorney that did the legal portions of my CCW class said that as well, unless it is a private collage such as Hope College, then they can make their own laws, but a public college had to adhere to state law.

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    Member Array jonesy_26's Avatar
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    The concealed pistol law, and to a greater degree any law about firearms in the Michigan Compiled Laws, concern the health, safety and welfare of the people, and is not part of the operations or finance of the university. Using this argument, state law trumps the ordinance banning possession of a weapon by a CPL holder, since regulating firearms is not related to the operations or finance of the University
    This here is the meat and potatoes. It would be how this is interpreted-thats the key. Like mentioned above, try to get Mike Cox to issue an opinion on this. There are only 2 other ways, file a lawsuit, or become the guinea pig by testing the law.

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    VIP Member Array glock27mark's Avatar
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    if my understanding is correct,dorms,classrooms offlimits. parking areas
    are good to go.
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    the world coming too"

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  11. #11
    New Member Array spartywrx's Avatar
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    Yep, after my exams are over I am going to try to find a state congress-critter to ask Mike Cox this question. Unfortunately I live in a House and Senate district where there reps are anti's (the Senator is a bit more pro, but not by much). I don't think that they'd follow through with my request, but that is where I will start. It really does depend on the interpretation of the AG or the court, and I'd want to get this question to Mr. Cox before he has to leave office in 2010.

    Also, the U-M ordinance carries a 10-60 day jail term and/or a $50 fine. I wonder which one they would slap you with (actually I'm pretty sure which one). I'm sure that they would tack on the extra fine of having to watch the entire 2008 UM football season again.

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    Senior Member Array Jackle1886's Avatar
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    I spoke with a friend on this matter. See there are public roads that go through campus, such is the case in Kalamazoo and WMU. Now, we are legal to carry on those roads, and the property, just not inside the specified buildings. Otherwise we would be illegal even driving down the road. So, it would seem that this should apply to the other colleges as well.
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  13. #13
    Member Array Kovernm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glock27mark View Post
    if my understanding is correct,dorms,classrooms offlimits. parking areas
    are good to go.
    This is how I understand it as well, as long as it is a public college, meaning that they receive money from the State.

  14. #14
    New Member Array spartywrx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jackle1886 View Post
    I spoke with a friend on this matter. See there are public roads that go through campus, such is the case in Kalamazoo and WMU. Now, we are legal to carry on those roads, and the property, just not inside the specified buildings. Otherwise we would be illegal even driving down the road. So, it would seem that this should apply to the other colleges as well.

    One would think that, but MSU, U-M, and WSU are special cases. The Michigan constitution gives them special powers that WMU doesn't have. Basically the three boards you elect every 2 years on your state wide ballot have quite a lot of power compared to the board that controls WMU. WMU is subject to state control, while UM/MSU/WSU can tell Lansing to shove it.

    See this link for more info. The reason why this exists is that UofM did not want to start an agriculture school and got into a fight with the legislature over that issue. The end result was a special constitutional provision for universities and the creation of MSU. So the rivalry goes way back and is actually included in our constitution.

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    Member Array badmojo's Avatar
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    This issue is a concern to me since I live close to Ann Arbor. Anyone who lives here knows that you can't swing a dead cat in this town without hitting a UofM building or property. I would like to see the AG's opinion of this before someone becomes a test case.
    ‘‘We, the People are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts — not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow men who pervert the Constitution.’’

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