Michigan Gun Owners Files Lawsuit Against Ann Arbor Public Schools

School Board members stare into the crowd as people file in, before the meeting at Skyline High School Wednesday, April 15, 2015. Nicole Hester | The Ann Arbor News

Michigan Gun Owners and Ann Arbor parent Ulysses Wong are heading to the courtroom in hopes of taking down the Ann Arbor Public school system in a lawsuit naming the system and its Superintendent Jeanice Swift.  The answers they are seeking are whether the policies passed by the AAPS board during its April 15th meeting violate Michigan law and the state’s constitution.

The complaint reads; “State law pre-empts a local unit of government from regulating the possession and transportation of a firearm,”   James Makowski, legislative director for Michigan Gun Owners submitted the formal complaint in Washtenaw County Circuit Court, and Judge Carol Kuhnke is slated to hear the case.

President of Michigan Gun Owners, Mike Borders stated that the organization was waiting to file until a similar lawsuit in Clio, Mi, brought about by Michigan Open Carry along with a parent was complete, but felt it was in their best interest not to hesitate. “In our opinion, you cannot let anyone circumvent the laws of the state of Michigan, regardless of who it is,”

Ulysses Wong, the named party in this newest suit, is a parent of an Ann Arbor Public Schools student and the one who answered the call from Michigan Gun Owners for a plaintiff with a student in the district, to ensure they had standing.

“Mr. Wong kindly volunteered to stand up for his rights … he feels pretty strongly that there are 10 amendments in the Bill of Rights and he believes in all of them, as do I. He does not believe the government should abridge any of those rights.” Makowski stated.

Wong and Michigan Gun Owners are hoping for a declaratory judgment as well as an order from the court stating the new policy which is attempting to keep anyone who is “not” a law enforcement officer from bringing a gun onto school property, is unconstitutional, illegal and unenforceable per current Michigan statutes.

They portend that the new policies create a precedent that could ambiguously redefine Michigan’s constitution, as the creation of a “dangerous weapon and disruption-free zone” on all district-owned property, essentially prohibiting the presence of guns, including pistols, explosives and variety of knives and other objects goes directly against an already established Michigan statute.  It further outlines the superintendent’s ability to close schools, cancel buses or student and staff events in the case of a “deemed” emergency, specifically defining “the presence of a dangerous weapon on any district property” as such an emergency.

District board members acknowledge the fact that such lawsuits could be brought against them, but chose to enact the policy regardless, stating;

“There may be potential risks, but we are willing to stay together and address those risks on behalf of children,” Trustee Susan Baskett said. “We don’t tolerate guns or weapons.”

The “new policies” were enacted after an incident on March 5th, when Ann Arbor resident Josh Wade legally carried his concealed carry weapon (openly) onto school grounds during his sister’s choir concert.  Before these new policies were placed into effect, residents with Concealed Pistol licenses could openly carry a gun on school property, even though concealed weapons are prohibited.

The Ann Arbor Public School system has 21 days to provide their response to the complaint, at which time Makowski will move forward and ask the court for a summary judgement. Although he disagrees on a personal level, he still believes they have a strong case against the district.

“We’re not looking for any money damages, we’re just trying to get the Ann Arbor schools to comply with state law, which they are clearly flaunting.”



About the Author

Patrick James
Patrick James
Patrick James has worked as a firefighter/EMT for several services throughout the years, as well as a custom metal fabricator, certified personal trainer and chef. Growing up in the rural suburbs of Detroit, it was during his frequent trips to Northern Michigan where he learned of his love for hunting and fishing. Spending several of his adult years in upstate South Carolina, his love of extreme sports took root in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains as he learned to rock climb and kayak. "Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and vanish into air." ~ John Quincy Adams