Michigan Court: University of Michigan can ban firearms on campus

The Michigan Court of Appeals has upheld the University of Michigan’s campus gun ban.

MLive reported Judge Mark Cavanagh issued an opinion for the majority in the 2-1 decision, saying that the university’s weapons ban does not violate the U.S. Constitution.

The opinion disagreed with plaintiff Joshua Wade, who had sued the university in 2015, arguing the ban was unconstitutional and conflicts with state law.

Under current school policy, only law enforcement officers and military personnel are allowed to carry weapons on campus.

“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 said in the opinion.

Judge David Sawyer issued a dissenting opinion in which he argued the university’s ban is in conflict with state law that should preempt the university from imposing firearms regulations in public areas of the university.

“Turning to the issue at hand, I do not view applying preemption to the issue of firearm possession as invading either the University’s educational or financial autonomy,” Sawyer opined. “That is, by recognizing the Legislature’s decision to preempt the field of firearm possession and keep to itself the enactment of those regulations, there is no invasion of the University’s autonomy. This is not, for example, a case of the Legislature mandating that all University students must take a course in firearm safety in order to be awarded a degree. Nor has the Legislature mandated that the University expend money on such training for students who wish it.”

“For these reasons,” Sawyer continued, “I would reverse the trial court and hold that defendant exceeded its authority in enacting the restrictions on the possession of firearms on its campus.”

In his opinion for the majority, Cavanagh fundamentally disagreed with Sawyer, concluding that the state Legislature had “clearly limited” preemption of firearms regulations to those imposed by cities, villages, townships and counties.

“The University is not similarly situated to these entities; rather, it is a state-level, not a lower level or inferior level, governmental entity,” Cavanagh said. “More specifically, it is ‘a constitutional corporation of independent authority.'”

Wade’s lawsuit against the University of Michigan was originally dismissed by the Michigan Court of Claims in November 2015 and Wade appealed the decision in December 2015.