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District wants open-carry of guns banned in schools

December 25, 2013 - Oxford Community Schools has joined the fight along with many other school districts in Oakland County and across Michigan trying to ban the open carry of firearms in schools by voting unanimously to sign a joint resolution to be sent to state legislators.

Under the Michigan Penal Code Act 328 of 1931, state law prohibits the possession of firearms, including those that are "open carried" in banks, places of worship, courts, theaters, sports arenas, daycare centers and bars.

But there is no mention of public schools.

"Many have interpreted the absence of public schools from the Michigan prohibition as permitting open carry in Michigan public schools," said Deputy Superintendent of Human Resources Nancy Latowksi, who put the resolution together.

"All of the restrictions are put on concealed carry holders who have to go through background checks, take training, all the things in order to carry and conceal, but any individual could open carry into a school and now, it's chaos because you don't know anyone's intention in this day and age," Reis said. "It just creates panic and the district isn't setup to handle that on a daily basis."

Because the intentions of a person open carrying within the schools aren't known, the resolution states that a person entering an Oxford school with a firearm would result in that building "entering lockdown status."

While the Federal Guns Free School Zones Act prohibits a firearm in or on the ground of a public school it does not override state law.

"The issue you're dealing with is (the) federal government does not have jurisdiction or constitutional authority over public education," explained OCS Superintendent Dr. William Skilling. "That's reserved for the states."

Board Secretary Kim Shumaker thought perhaps schools were left out of the open carry ban as a "loophole to allow security guards to carry," but Latowski said "there are exceptions to allow security or people hired as security to carry."

Board President Colleen Shultz said it was one of those things that "made no sense."

"I am in full support in trying to right this," she said. "It's so mind-blowing that it seems it's an oversight."

Trustee Dan D'Alessandro believes "it is an oversight."

"Just for the simple fact that . . . it says sporting arenas," he said. "On a typical Friday night or even a basketball game, you're getting 5,000 people there and it's permissible to carry a gun at that point because it's on school grounds, so there is a little bit of gray area when it comes to that in my mind."

"It's nonsensical the venues they identify, yet leave schools out," Skilling added.

Treasurer Robert Martin was "gratified" the board passed the resolution.

"I am dumfounded by the idea that guns should be permitted in school," he said. "I can't wrap my head around that one."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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