A Michigan judge held last week that a Grand Rapids man may carry a gun inside his daughter’s school —provided he carries it out in the open where it is most likely to panic students and teachers.
Kenneth Herman sued the Clio Area School District after his daughter’s elementary school refused to grant him access while he was openly carrying a pistol.
Though this ruling may seem unusual, it is not entirely clear that it is wrong (at least as a matter of law) given the hodgepodge of restrictions and exceptions contained in Michigan’s gun laws. Though one provision of law provides that “an individual who possesses a weapon in a weapon free school zone is guilty of a misdemeanor,” for example, that provision also includes an exception for individuals “licensed by this state or another state to carry a concealed weapon.”
Herman has a concealed carry license.
Another provision of the state’s law prohibits such license holders from carrying “a concealed pistol” on their person while on school grounds, but that provision is silent on openly carried firearms — hence the apparent loophole permitting Mr. Herman to bring a gun on campus so long as he displays it openly.
Twenty co-sponsors have signed onto legislation by state Rep. Andy Schor (D), which seeks to close this loophole. That legislation, however, has not advanced in the state house. Alternative legislation sponsored by state Sen. Mike Green (R) would close the open carry loophole but permit concealed carry in schools instead.
Herman, for his part, defends his lawsuit with an argument similar to the National Rifle Association’s rhetoric about good guys with guns stopping bad guys with guns. “I think having law-abiding armed citizens in there provides some measure of protection that isn’t a glass door that can be broken out,” Herman told a local NBC affiliate.
Empirical data, however, does not support this rhetoric. Although a 2004 report by the National Research Council of the National Academies found that “it is not possible to determine that there is a causal link between the passage of right-to-carry laws and crime rates,” subsequent research indicates that permissive gun laws lead to more violence. A Stanford study, for example, determined that right-to-carry laws increase the rate of aggravated assault by 8 percent. It also suggests that such laws may also be “associated with an increase in rape and robbery.”