Nessel backs U of M firearm ban before Mich. Supreme Court

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    The University of Michigan’s longtime rule banning firearms from campus now has the support of the state’s chief law enforcement officer, Attorney General Dana Nessel.

    Nessel announced in a release Monday that her office has filed a legal brief in a court case challenging the rule, Joshua Wade v University of Michigan, which has been ongoing since 2015 and is now pending before the Michigan Supreme Court.

    Nessel’s brief argues that U of M is within its rights to enforce a firearm prohibition to protect students, employees and the public without infringing on the Second Amendment.

    “When it declared the rough contours of the Amendment, the Court was careful to single out core areas in which governments may regulate firearms — including longstanding prohibitions on guns at school,” Nessel wrote in the brief.

    “From the first colleges on American soil to the present day, states and colleges have exercised their authority to regulate firearms in myriad ways, from outright bans to clear permission to carry. The University’s prohibition fits within this range of permissible options.” 

    The university enacted the rule in 2001 to ban weapons from all properties owned, leased or controlled by the school. Ann Arbor gun advocate Joshua Wade, who drew controversy at the time for openly carrying firearms at local schools and school events, filed a lawsuit in the Court of Claims opposing the ban in 2015.

    The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled in favor of U of M in June 2017, a ruling which Nessel is now urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold.

    “Governmental entities get substantial leeway to restrict firearms as they see fit, subject to the core Second Amendment protection,” Nessel wrote. “Ignoring the Supreme Court’s recognition that ‘sensitive places’ can bear prohibitions on firearms would extend the Second Amendment beyond its constitutional mooring. And it would be at odds with the judicial deference afforded to local governments, particularly those governing sensitive places.”

    Laina G. Stebbins
    Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, immigration and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).