Joseph Solis-Mullen and family. (Photo credit: Safiya Merchant/battlecreekenquirer.com)

Joseph Solis-Mullen is a Michigander with three kids, a job as a restaurant cook, and a 9mm S&W. On December 4, two of those led to a little run-in with local authorities when he openly carried his pistol into the Lillian Fletcher Elementary School to sign his son into class. As regular TTAG readers know, courts in the home state of Gerald Ford, Aretha Franklin, and Eminem . . .

have held that Carrying a firearm into a public school is perfectly legal…as long as the carrier has a Michigan Concealed Pistol License, and the firearm is openly carried. Aware of this fact, Solis-Mullen made sure that his firearm was very visible. “It was right in front. I made sure my shirt was behind it,” he said.

Indeed, it was so visible that a school official who advised him that openly carrying the gun “was inappropriate because he was in a weapon-free zone.” Despite being pretty obviously wrong given the fact that a man was carrying a firearm right in front of him, this school official apparently generated enough confusion that Solis-Mullen returned on Monday afternoon to have a little chat with Homer Community School District Superintendent Robert Wright. Still carrying his 9mm, natch.

Wright was not amused:

“He [Wright] said if you don’t disarm and take the weapon to your car right now, I’m going to lock the school down, because that’s the school policy,” Mullen said. “I had felt like I had been put unfairly in a situation where now I was being pressured to comply with a school procedure.”

As a result, the Homer school buildings went into a “hard lockdown”. And the definition of “hard lockdown” is not exactly clear, because it appears that Mr. Mullen, the man who triggered the “hard lockdown” in the first place was apparently allowed to leave because, you know, he wasn’t actually doing anything wrong. The local constabulary was called, however, and had a little chat with Mullen. Unfortunately for Superintendent Wright, the conversation does not appear to have gone the way he had hoped:

“(The deputy) was like, ‘Just want to let you know (you) didn’t do anything illegal, you’re not under any trouble or anything,” Solis-Mullen said. “‘The school complained, though, so I have to follow up and let you know that I went and talked to them and told them about the law. They honestly didn’t know; it was an honest mistake; sorry to bother you.'”

“He literally said, ‘If it was me, what I would just do is I would just leave it in my car. But you’re perfectly within your right carrying it in school if you wish to do so in the manner that you’ve been doing it,'” Solis-Mullen said….

Solis-Mullen said after that conversation, he called the school secretary, who told him the school wasn’t aware of the law and that although they didn’t like it, they understand the law.

Mrs. Solis-Mullen criticized the school district for, essentially, wasting everyone’s time and taxpayer money for a political stunt. It’s hard to disagree with her characterization of this incident when you consider that, as the Battle Creek Enquirer reported, her husband had carried his firearm on school grounds more than once since obtaining his Concealed Pistol License, even attending parent-teacher conferences while openly carrying.

“I even asked (the secretary) ‘what do you mean, you can’t tell me just now you’re noticing this,'” Solis-Mullen said. “And she’s like, ‘Oh yeah, I would have said something.’ I’m like ‘Wow, that is incredibly scary then.’ Because it’s not like I was wearing something super-tiny or like trying to keep it hidden, it was literally like as open as could be. I wanted to make sure that no part of my shirt was covering it, nothing.”

Wright responded Wednesday, saying if anybody had seen the gun, they did not report it. He said the staff was quite surprised when Solis-Mullen told that to them as well.

“To the average Joe, we’re not looking for those type of things,” Wright said Wednesday. “We’re not trained to look for those type of things.”

It isn’t very encouraging to hear a supposed professional educator revel in his own ignorance. If I were a suspicious, paranoid sort, I’d wonder if the primary reason for imposing a lockdown despite the fact that Mr. Solis-Mullen was behaving in both a legal and peaceful manner (while in the Superintendent’s office, for pity’s sake!) was simply to push a politcal agenda. The issue of whether CPL holders should be able to carry firearms into schools has been in the news in Michigan since that recent court decision, after all.

For his part, Mr. Solis-Mullen asserted that he wasn’t trying to “spark controversy” or “promote a political stance”; his intent was solely “to keep himself, his son, and others safe because of recent mass shootings.”

“Everybody wants to think it’s not going to be us, it’s not going to be here. And it’s a very small chance,” he said, in an interview with Fox17. “I’d rather be sitting in a courtroom than an emergency room; I’d rather be safe rather than sorry.

As well you should, Mr. Solis-Mullen.

DISCLAIMER: The above is an opinion piece; it is not legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship in any sense. If you need legal advice in any matter, you are strongly urged to hire and consult your own counsel. This post is entirely my own, and does not represent the positions, opinions, or strategies of my firm or clients.

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52 Responses to Michigan Father Takes Son into School While Openly Carrying; Hilarity Ensues

  1. “We know the law but don’t agree with it so we’re going to pitch a fit and waste everyone’s time and money”. These are the people “educating” your children.

  2. Was there any discussion about charging Mr. Wright, school district superintendent, with filing a false police report, or misuse of municipal resources due to the “lock down”? As we’ve all heard, “ignorance of the law is no excuse”.

    • Filing a lawsuit for infringing on his 2A rights would be an exceptional way to go. I fear the judges in that county are probably libs, too.

  3. Looks like a nice family. Good for Mr. Mullen. It is kind of silly that Michigan prohibits concealed carry but allows OC. If Mich. had just allowed Mr. Mullen to CC, nobody would have ever known or cared about him carrying.

    • This for Art out west… don’t know why it replied the wrong person. MDA hackers maybe?

      Yes the Michigan law is strange. I can open carry with exceptions (can’t have a loaded gun for example in the car when I’m driving however with with a cpl I can… HOWEVER in a public school as long as I got a cpl I have to open carry).

    • The governor of Michigan has vetoed bills to fix this at least twice. It ain’t the legislature’s or people’s fault that it’s still like this.

    • The patchwork of laws is rather stupid. It’s worse for college campuses. As I understand it now it’s legal to concealed carry under state law, but federal law requires you open carry if you carry at all and you must have a CPL to do so, but openly carrying any weapon is against college police policy so of they see it you will be escorted away quickly. So basically it’s legal but it’s not.

      • That does not seem accurate to me. In Minnesota we can carry concealed in a University. The University can have a policy against that – but it does not have the force of law. If there were some Federal law requiring open carry that would apply to all 50 states – you may want to review your local laws/consult an attorney in your state.

      • The GFSZA does not apply to college campuses, only high school and below. It also states nothing about method of carry.

  4. “It isn’t very encouraging to hear a supposed professional educator revel in his own ignorance.”
    RULE #1! Nothing is too sick or crass if it’s funny enough!

  5. “Professional educator”-I got a chuckle outa’ that. Those that can’t DO…I’m on this guys side but wonder if he’s just looking for a fight(or a check).

    • I highly doubt that this gentleman is looking for a check. I have yet to hear of a civil case in Michigan regarding OC doing much more than recovering legal costs, if that.

      The idea that the courts just print checks for wrongfull arrests, detentions, or harassment, while popular, is based on incorrect assumtions.

    • Concur. LE officer had it right. I might have asked him if he knew it was perfectly fine, why did he bother stopping me to begin with?

  6. I am so glad that this dude doesn’t appear to be an idiot. I will be honest. I break this law almost daily. I have no intention of making it on the news and I don’t go anywhere without being armed.

    • Bob,

      I know lots of people who break the “law of stupidity” daily as well.

      Of course you would never admit to explicitly breaking any laws on an unsecured forum such as the comments section of a blog. A motivated law enforcement type could quickly determine your home address through your Internet provider and come knocking — at 4 a.m. with 20 of his buddies.

  7. And now for a serious question: how do you carry a handgun openly when you have to wear a coat in cold weather? Carry it in a scabbard outside your coat?

    A second serious question: the federal “Gun Free School Zones” Act says that you cannot possess a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school unless your state issues you a license to have a firearm and the license requires you to pass a background check. Many of us read this to mean that we must have a concealed handgun license to carry a handgun within a school zone. What about rifles? Many of our concealed handgun licenses are just that — HANDGUN licenses. Do those qualify us to have rifles within school zones? What about states that license concealed WEAPONS? Can those licensees have rifles within schools zones since a weapon license would presumably cover rifles?

    • “How do you carry a handgun openly when you have to wear a coat in cold weather?”

      Easy; tacticool drop-leg holster. They’re not just for mall food courts anymore. 😉

    • In addition to the drop leg holster, which is a bit tactikewl and has some retention issues there are many jackets available with splits on the side for a pistol.

  8. Obviously, he called a lockdown in order to create a chilling effect for others who may want to carry onto the school premises.

    Needlessly scaring and inconveniencing kids and parents, no matter.

    Advancing his own political agenda is far more important.

    The end justifies the means.

    Typical liberal behavior.

    • Nailed it. Abuse of power and waste of resources. The school board should seek his suspension, at a minimum.

    • Quite a few parents don’t pay a dime for their .gov daycare. Instead, the .gov pays them to pop out more kids so they can fill their indoctrination centers.

      • Notice how nice school district administration buildings are compared to the army barrack style buildings the kids get? Oh, don’t they get obscenely fat retirement pensions? Got to fund those too…

  9. 1) That’s a a dumb law – it would seem much more sensible to require that the handgun remain properly concealed so as to avoid causing some sort of panic.

    2) Kudos to the cop for being laid back and reasonable.

    • Well GA law is more stupid. It says you are not allowed to bring a gun into a school, however, if you use your gun in defense in a school then you will not be charged with breaking the above law. So…..yeah, okay then.

      • Technically, the law says that you can bring your gun into a school if you have a Georgia Weapons Carry License. However, the Official Code of Georgia Annotated does not reflect this recent (2 years ago) change because Governor Deal pulled some shenanigans and persuaded (or strong-armed) the Code Committee to not codify the changes in the bill that he signed. A side effect of his machinations is that a whole bunch of zero-tolerance reformation also did not make it into the Code. GeorgiaCarry.Org is currently suing the powers-that-be over this issue.

        TL:DR–Georgia law says you can carry, but if you actually try it, you will probably get arrested because most of the LEOs, prosecutors, and judges believe the Code and not the actual Acts of the Legislature. Also, Governor Deal is a RINO that doesn’t care about your gun rights.

    • ” it would seem much more sensible to require that the handgun remain properly concealed so as to avoid causing some sort of panic. “

      Pushing for change in the wrong direction.

      The mere sight of a properly holstered firearm should never cause some sort of panic.

      We argue that the firearm has no agency…that it can’t “do” anything on its own. Then, we turn around and “concede” that a VISIBLE firearm is justifiably the cause of a weak minded fool’s vapors.

      Bullsqueeze.

      THIS is why we need more OC and OC activism to “normalize” firearms. It’s not to change the mind of the anti’s. It’s to show our own freaking side that holstered, openly carried firearms are harmless and can be “normal.”

  10. The administrators of the Lillian Fletcher Elementary School are so utterly stupid that they should be working for the New York Times.

  11. The lockdown was just a temper tantrum from someone who has the mind of a child. “I’ll tell on you if you don’t take your gun to the car!”

  12. The act of the superintendent was obviously intended to intimidate and embarrass the parent. The whole purpose of a lockdown is supposed to be safety. The parent was calmly standing right before him. If that superintendent thought, for even a moment, that there was any real danger, he would have placated the parent, stalled for time, and secretly called for a lockdown. He never would have told the parent that he was going to have to call for a lockdown. That wouldn’t make any sense. The superintendent with was full of it. Also, the deputy shouldn’t have covered for the superintendent and should have charged the school official with something like inciting a panic.

    The lockdown was intended to punish the parents for exercising his legal right. I guess this could be called contempt of school official.

  13. Honestly, as a Michigan citizen, this article just highlights the absolute aburdity of Michigan gun laws. We are the only free state to require registration (pistols are registered in the state). We are allowed to conceal carry, except in a few areas, but are allowed to open carry in those areas. The laws governing what is a pistol and what is a rifle are convoluted, for example a Keltec Sub 2000 must be registered as a pistol due to its length when collapsed, despite it being inoperable from that position. Even with a concealed carry license, we are not allowed to carry rifles or shotguns loaded, but the state police have determined that anybody can have a loaded detachable rifle magazine next to the rifle, despite this being a big no-no for pistols (without a concealed permit).
    Really, we need to decide if we are a pro gun state, like the vast majority of the state is, or if we are an anti gun state like the dark south east corner of the state wants to be. It doesn’t help that our RINO governer is allegedly in Bloomberg’s pocket, and has vowed that he will not sign any pro gun bills that cross his desk.

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