Editor's Note: In November, Bloomfield Hills residents narrowly passed a a 0.39-mill levy to fund a three-year contract with the Baldwin Public Library, giving them a library to call their own after several years and two previous millage attempts.
Should people be allowed to openly carry guns in Michigan libraries?
The Baldwin Public Library Board doesn't think you should, and they're appealing to area lawmakers to change Michigan's open carry law.
According to a letter sent to State Rep. Chuck Moss (R-Birmingham) and State Sen. John Pappageorge (R-Troy), the movement was spurred by a group of open carry advocates who came to the library on June 11, all of which were carrying weapons.
The group was part of a planned protest in support of Troy 18-year-old Sean Combs, who was then facing charges after he was caught carrying a loaded rifle in downtown Birmingham in early April. Combs was acquitted of all charges last week by a jury in 48th District Court.
"These individuals' presence inflicted fear in some of Baldwin's staff, disrupting their work and adversely affecting Baldwin's efforts to foster an atmosphere conducive to constructive library usage," according to the letter, which was approved by the Baldwin Library Board at their Monday night meeting.
Despite filing a report with police, Library Board President Andrew Harris said Baldwin is "hamstrung" when it comes to preventing such incidents in the future — hamstrung, he said, because state law allows for open carry in Michigan libraries.
While municipalities aren't allowed to regulate the possession of firearms, according to MCL 750.234d there are certain exceptions when firearms are not allowed. These include:
- Sports arenas
- Day care centers
- Establishments licensed under the Michigan Liquor Control Act
Not on that list, Harris noted, are public libraries.
"The Baldwin Public Library Board would like the Legislature to change the law to include libraries amongst places where citizens are precluded from carrying weapons," the letter reads.
"The Board believes a change in state law would greatly reduce the risk of a tragic accident at Baldwin, help foster a healthier environment for library usage, eliminate the chance that citizens would be afraid to enter the library and lower security costs," Harris adds.
This isn't the first time open carry laws have been challenged when it comes to Michigan libraries. Currently before the Michigan Court of Appeals is a case debating whether the Capital Area District Library system in Lansing has the right to banish openly-carried firearms.
According to MLive, the library system was granted a permanent injunction to prohibit the open carry of firearms in Ingham County Circuit Court last year. That decision was appealed by Michigan Open Carry. A decision is expected to be issued by the end of the month.