Michigan law may soon allow concealed weapons in schools.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Senate Bills 442 and 561 on Tuesday, Oct. 13 that would allow those with concealed pistol licenses to carry in places where they currently can’t, according to the Detroit Free Press. However, open carry won’t be allowed. The bills still have to be approved by Michigan’s Senate.
This legislation will apply to disputes in other parts of Michigan. According to a story in the July 17 Free Press, an Ann Arbor resident sued the University of Michigan in June because he wasn’t allowed to carry a gun on campus. The case has not yet been decided.
Similar legislation has been passed in other parts of the country. In June, the Texas Legislature approved a law permitting college students who are at least 21 years old and licensed to carry a concealed firearm to have guns on college campuses, according to a June 5 article in Huffington Post. However, the president of each university will decide which buildings the law applies to.
Michigan’s legislation hits closer to OU than many students realize. Lori Ostergaard, associate professor and chair of the Department of Writing and Rhetoric, noticed an armed man at Judith Butler’s Oct. 8 lecture on non-violence. The lecture was in Banquet Rooms A and B in the OC.
Ostergaard caught a glimpse of the man’s gun as he stood up and sat down and called OUPD.
Two officers confronted the man and found out that he was an off-duty police officer from another city. Police officers are allowed to carry a concealed weapon most places, said Mark Gordon, chief of OUPD.
“He was not breaking the law,” Gordon said. “He did nothing wrong.”
OU follows ordinance 7.02 that does not allow firearms on campus. However, this can only be enforced with students, who agree to not violate any campus ordinances when they sign their application for admission, and employees, who are required to follow campus rules, Gordon said.
OU is a public university, and anyone can come on campus, firearm or no firearm. However, visitors with concealed weapons are not allowed in residential or academic buildings, Gordon said.
Under the ordinance, faculty can ask students with guns to leave and call OUPD if the student refuses, said Kevin Grimm. Grimm just finished his two-year term as president of OU’s branch of the American Association of University Professors. This organization serves as the faculty union.
“Remember that the instructor has not only a right, but a responsibility to ensure a safe learning environment in his/her classroom,” Grimm said in an email.
All this may change if the bills become law.
Ostergaard said she has no problem with people’s right to own guns, but there’s a time and place for everything.
“We have these rights, but we don’t always use them,” Ostergaard said. “It’s not a situation that calls for a gun,” she said of the lecture.
Ostergaard posted about the event on Facebook. Many of her friends, who are faculty at OU and other colleges, called for increased awareness of the specifics of OU’s policy.
“They really want to know what this ordinance does and does not allow,” she said.
However, this awareness may not matter much longer.