In March of 2016, members of Michigan Gun Owners (MGO) and Michigan Open Carry (MOC) were illegally expelled from a booth they had rented at the DeVos Place Convention center. They were ejected because they were openly carrying holstered pistols.

The organizations filed a lawsuit against the DeVos Place Convention Center and its management company for violating Michigan law. On Friday, Judge Joseph Rossi of the Kent County Circuit found for MGO and MOC. It didn’t take long.

The judge listened to the arguments for about an hour, and reviewed the lawsuit. He then issued a summary judgment for the plaintiffs. From mlive.com:

On Friday, attorney Dean Greenblatt, who represents Michigan Open Carry, said a no-concealed carry policy contradicts state law.

He argued that the properties are public and, while organizations leasing them could choose who they invite to a private event, they can’t implement firearm regulations, and public entities cannot enforce them.

After hearing an hour of arguments and reviewing both sides of the lawsuit, Rossi sided with the open-carry advocates. The judge advised that the wording of the venues’ weapons policy should be updated to properly align with Michigan’s state gun laws.

This is example of the importance of being willing to fight to enforce the law.  The law may be on your side, but if the local powers that be are willing to flout it, they can succeed in destroying your rights with little effort or consequence.

Second Amendment supporters have had the Constitution on their side since the beginning. After decades of erosion through legislation, supporters ultimately built the organizations and communications networks to elect responsive politicians, pass laws and strengthen state constitutions. Now supporters are in the process of enforcing the laws that they’ve gotten passed.

Suppressing open carry is primarily aimed at suppressing strong, symbolic, political, speech. People who see a person unapologeticly carrying a firearm learn an important lesson. The right to bear arms exists, is exercised safely and is enforced. The state has limits to its power.

Those are powerful messages in Michigan and over all of the country.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch

19 Responses to Michigan Judge Rules for Open Carry Organizations

  1. “This is example of the importance of being willing to fight to enforce the law.” Not only willing, but able. That’s why I think it is also important to create a cause of action with damages and mandatory attorney’s fees for challenges to violations of laws protecting people’s rights (whether or not those are 2A rights). That would give people reason and ability to fight these illegal actions.

    • In this case there is: 42 USC sect 1983, which provideds for both. It so happens that the arena was public property, and its expulsion of the exhibitors for violating a guns policy that violated state law constitutes actions “under color of law.” We do not know whether damages were claimed, and this is not an issue that can typically be resolved on a summary judgment motion. but they should be entitled to attorney’s fees under the judge’s ruling.

      • Mark N.,

        Now the real trick is getting a prosecutor to actually charge the offenders under U.S. Code 42 Section 1983.

      • I’m not a civil rights attorney. I have never participated in a 1983 action except for mentioning some stuff about Texas weapons laws to a guy doing his first 1983 action. That said, at least some* (maybe all, I don’t know) 1983 actions require there to be no adequate remedy under state law. I’m fairly certain most remedies the courts deem adequate, I would not. I’d just prefer a specific state cause of action that provides for damages (not based on some economic loss proved by the plaintiff) and attorney’s fees.

        *”Under Parratt, a Section 1983 remedy is not available to address random tort claims based on the deprivation of due process if adequate state post-deprivation remedies are available. Although the Parratt rule generally does not apply to suits based on the deprivation of substantive constitutional rights not involving due process, the Supreme Court has, nevertheless, ruled that Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment “taking” claims are not ripe in federal court until the local government agency has refused just compensation.” – The Shriver Center’s Federal Practice Manual for Legal Aid Attorneys

        • I really respect your willingness and ability to use footnotes in an off-the-cuff internet comment.

        • Thank you. It’s because I’m pedantic. Also I wasn’t sure about the appropriate remedy exception (I’m still not), so I looked it up. Since I looked it up, I had it. Since I had it, I posted it.

          My brother and I argue about the meaning of words. If one of us does not relent, we look it up (even back before the internet). If I don’t know a thing, I look it up. With the internet, it is pretty easy to look up pretty much anything.

    • The quasi government organization got assessed court costs, but MI’s preemption law leaves the victim to pay his own attorney fees in order to force the government to obey the law.

  2. So will carry advocates have to sue every single establishment that flouts the law? Because that’s all this tells me.

    • Hannibal,

      Your conclusion is correct. Until the people who flout preemption laws start paying for it with their own money and their own freedom (e.g. prison sentences), they will keep doing it.

      • And that is exactly what Kommiefornia does to strip the rights from its citizens. They pass a$$inie laws and make us fight them in court, taking years, then we have to pay our costs yet they just burn taxpayers dollars fighting it.

  3. Does the ruling put some kind of hurt on those entities that flout or disregard the law? If not, then they can do whatever the hell they please and say, “Oops, my bad!”

  4. The really problem with law, in any example, is that judges are penning “opinions”. Not fact, not one side is wrong and the other is right, but what they think or feel it means. Until we can figure out a system where the way the law is written, and maybe written in ways to where there can be no differing ideologies, we will have to play this game. Definitions must change with the times, and so must the entire system. We use the Constitution as as a document written in olden times, and we use that basis to make “opinions”. It cannot be done this way if we are to continue to spread freedom to all of those who are deserving of it.

    Simple fact of the matter: The First was established to prevent government from suppressing what you say, how you say it, how you transmit that speech, and where you can do it. I think (most) people agree on that principle. The Second, was established as a line in the sand to remove said government from power when it inevitably tells you differently about the First. Subsequently, the second also allows you to remove government from power when it inevitably takes all other subsequent freedoms from you.

    All in all, I believe there should only be 2 laws. That of which destroys, steals, removes, or tarnishes private property, and the same wording for the second part, just changing property with person. If it doesn’t hurt someone or someone’s property, it should be legal without limit.

    • “Until we can figure out a system where the way the law is written, and maybe written in ways to where there can be no differing ideologies, we will have to play this game.”
      We have one example of that….

      A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

      What is so damned hard to understand about that.

      • I agree, wholeheartedly. This particular issue involves private property and public property rights. I would love to walk in to a store, plop down some cash, and walk out with a belt fed strapped to my back without any concern or questions. Incrementalism got us here, it’s the way to get us out.

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