Michigan Appeals Court: No Guns for Wolverines

Although Michigan is all atwitter with the news that a Constitutional Carry bill has been passed by the state House, the reality is that even without the need to acquire a Concealed Pistol License, firearms carry for Mitten Staters is still subject to some contradictory and confusing rules and regulations about where and when a gun may be possessed.

Guns may not be carried concealed in an elementary or high school by holders of a Michigan Concealed Pistol License, but there’s no statute banning licensees from the open carry of firearms in those locations. Concealed firearms are also banned from “a dormitory or classroom of a community college, college, or university.

That was not good enough for the University of Michigan Board of Regents which approved an ordinance in 2001 banning the possession of all firearms, with or without a license, and regardless of whether they were carried openly or concealed, on all of the University’s properties, not just the classrooms and dormitories.

This upset Joshua Wade, a gun rights advocate from Ann Arbor, who filed a lawsuit challenging the ban in 2015. Unfortunately, a lower court dismissed his case, and just this week, a Michigan Court of Appeals upheld that decision.

Wade challenged the ban arguing that his right to carry a firearm protected by the Second Amendment had been infringed and also that the University of Michigan had violated the state’s firearms laws. After all, the state legislature had passed a preemption law barring local units of government from regulating firearms at all. How could the University go off on its own here?

The Appellate Court didn’t like any of it.

The Second Amendment issue was dismissed out of hand by the Court using Scalia’s famous nonbinding dicta about “laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings….”

Ah, said the Court, since intermediate scrutiny applies, and since clearly the courtyard at the Michigan Law Quadrangle is a “sensitive place”, the Second Amendment isn’t infringed if we ban guns from this location.

Preemption didn’t apply either, the Court reasoned. As it turns out, the University of Michigan Board of Regents was created directly by Article VIII sec. 5 of Michigan’s 1963 Constitution, and, in the words of the court, is therefore

the highest form of juristic person known to the law, a constitutional corporation of independent authority, which, within the scope of its functions, is co-ordinate with and equal to that of the legislature.

What the–?

They hard-coded the University’s Board of Regents into the state constitution? The board is equal to the legislature? Really?

Well, maybe not. Judge David Sawyer dissented, saying that the firearms preemption law should apply to the University, citing copious precedent along the way:

[T]he decisions of our courts on this topic do not support a proposition that defendant has free reign to determine which enactments of the Legislature it chooses to follow and which it chooses to ignore. Nor does it grant the University the authority to enact criminal laws.

According to the Detroit Free Press, an appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court is likely. “We strongly agree with the dissent,” said Wade’s attorney Steven Dulan. But first, “I need to have a long talk with Mr. Wade,” he said.

Rick Ector, a firearms trainer and gun rights advocate from Detroit, also seemed optimistic.

“I was disappointed but not disheartened. I expect this fight to go the entire distance. It will make the eventual victory better to savor.”


(An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated a point about Michigan law. Thanks to user Uncommon_Sense for pointing out the error.)


  1. avatar Chip Bennett says:

    The judiciary: usurping their authority since Marbury v Madison.

    The black-robed tyrants are, and always have been, the greatest threat to our constitutional republic.

    1. avatar Omer Baker says:

      Hizzah! Hizzah!

      Well said and completely agreed upon.

    2. avatar Ralph says:

      “The black-robed tyrants are, and always have been, the greatest threat to our constitutional republic.”

      Chip, as a (retired) lawyer who understands the judicial process, I am in complete and total agreement with your statement.

  2. avatar Slab Rankle says:

    Lots of people, from Barack Obama on down to the lowliest illegal alien, choose to ignore any and every law that inconveniences them, so why don’t we?

    Ralph Waldo Emerson teaches us that we have a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws, and I agree. So do Mahatma Gandhi, MLK Jr., and many others.

    Also, I think we can guess pretty accurately where the UM Board Of Regents fall in the ideological spectrum.

    The courts won’t protect us and our rights don’t derive from them anyway.

    We have a moral responsibility to disobey.

  3. avatar Shire-man says:

    I wouldn’t let anyone else tell me what I can/cannot do so why let the courts?
    Really, it’s all just arbitrary tyranny that nobody listens to anyway.

    Rule of law and government in general has been relegated to myth and fable levels of relevance.
    After all it’s just their opinion.

    1. avatar Ing says:

      Unfortunately, their opinion can put those who disagree in jail.

  4. avatar FedUp says:

    Is the second word missing the letters “not”?

    Guns can be carried concealed in an elementary or high school, but there’s no statute banning the open carry of firearms in those locations.

    1. avatar Johannes Paulsen says:

      Yes. Will fix when I get a sec. tks b

  5. avatar DaveL says:

    Wow, that whole “co-equal with the legislature” thing was quite the “holy cr*p” moment. Whatever the Supremes decide about the gun issue, I sure hope they slap that part down, with a quickness.

  6. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    Guns can [not] be carried concealed in an elementary or high school, but there’s no statute banning the open carry of firearms in those locations.

    That is close although incorrect. There is a Michigan law which bans anyone from possessing a firearm (whether concealed or openly visible) in schools unless they have a concealed carry license. And then Michigan’s concealed carry law specifically prohibits carrying a concealed firearm in schools even if you have a concealed carry license. Furthermore, Michigan’s concealed carry law does not require you to carry concealed. Thus the “quirk” in Michigan law: you can carry a handgun into a school in Michigan without running afoul of the law only if you have a concealed carry license and your handgun is plainly visible (NOT concealed).

    1. avatar Johannes Paulsen says:

      I’m traveling right now, but will verify and update.

  7. avatar Rick says:

    The regents in Colorado tried the same argument…different result.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Did those regents lose? Did it require going all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court to provide a righteous ruling?

      1. avatar Rick says:

        Won at the first court, lost on appeal. In 2012 Colorado Supremes, in a unanimous decision, confirmed that the legislation meant everyone…mother fucker. ( the last part is paraphrasing the decision )

        1. avatar strych9 says:

          It is interesting to note two things about this.

          First, while they can’t bring charges against you, private institutions, like the one I attend, can put a ban on “weapons” in their Code of Conduct and theoretically boot you if you get caught. UD has such a provision but, to my knowledge, have never enforced it.

          Secondly, it’s interesting to note that places in Colorado will post “NO GUNS” signs with big old letters and then in tiny letters at the bottom post “(Except lawful concealed carry)” at the bottom. Which is basically just warning you that OC will get you asked to leave and trespassed if you refuse.

          So silly.

      2. avatar Rick says:

        Why just a month ago I attended my sons graduation at UC Boulder (EE not the flake side) and I was properly equipped.

  8. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    This declaration from the Michigan Court of Appeals stinks to high heaven.

    First of all, the only mention of any “power” that the Michigan constitution defines for the University of Michigan is the following nebulous statement,

    [The University of Michigan] board shall have general supervision of its institution …

    and somehow from that the University of Michigan Board of Regents can define criminal laws and override state laws??????

    Second, the Michigan Court of Appeals has gone to totally mad with this statement:

    [University of Michigan Board of Regents is] the highest form of juristic person known to the law, a constitutional corporation of independent authority, which, within the scope of its functions, is co-ordinate with and equal to that of the legislature.

    So, a single simple paragraph which defines a University Board of Regents and bestows upon them the authority to “have general supervision of its institution” creates a corporate entity that is co-equal with the state government which is defined/constrained in the remaining several hundred paragraphs of the same constitution?

    But even if we did want to go that route, then the University of Michigan Board of Regents is equally subject to Article 1, Section 6 statement that we have a right to keep and bear arms for defense of self and the state since this “co-equal entity” is bound by the same state constitution.

    Anyone know a cheap source where we can purchase some tar and feathers?

    1. avatar jwb says:

      Check MSU poultry farms for feathers. MSU stores for tar.

      At least MSU allows carry on campus (not dorms, classrooms or event centers)

  9. avatar Omer Baker says:

    Sounds like the legislature needs to allow the board of regents to fund themselves. If they’re equally powered, then the regents can attempt to extort taxes out of the citizens and not get funding through the legislature.

  10. avatar J says:

    Though I am a fan of UofM’s athletics, the University wields more power than it should in this state.

  11. avatar The Gray Poseur says:

    The craziest MF’ers in this country are found on university campuses. Especially in football stadiums. I need to be armed.

  12. avatar anonymoose says:

    Meanwhile, Ohio is set to have campus carry at state colleges this fall.

  13. avatar strych9 says:

    The whole university system in Michigan is strange. Both my parents worked in it and the stories they tell about nonsensical stuff are mindblowing.

  14. avatar SurfGW says:

    Yolo County used to (not anymore) be one of the few counties in California that would issue concealed carry permits. Even then, try carrying (open or concealed)!at UC Davis and see if you don’t get arrested. Signs said tobacco free and gun free but not drug free because weed was tolerated. On any college campus you are a guest of the Regents. Period.

  15. avatar Lucas D. says:

    Welp, then Red Dawn 2 is gonna be a short-ass movie.

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