Should Public Libraries Be Designated Gun-Free Zones?

LANSING (WWJ) – After man openly carrying a gun in a Kalamazoo library caused a stir, the issue of guns on public property has once again been raised in Michigan.

On Saturday, June 8, a man with a handgun visible in a holster drew stares and suspicion in the parking lot of the downtown Kalamazoo library during a children’s event kicking off a summer reading program.

According to a report by MLive, when approached by library staff, “he told us that he carries a gun to protect his young daughter,” said Library Director Ann Rohrbaugh. “…We’re under instruction from police to call them whenever we see someone with a gun, so we did.”

The man insisted he had the right to carry his weapon, but was asked to leave. He later spoke to police about his rights, MLive reported.

The Executive Director of the Michigan Library Association, Gayle Madzear says libraries are not on the state’s official list of gun-free zones — but they should be.

“We think libraries should be treated much like schools are, and be allowed to be gun-free zones,” Madzear told WWJ Newsradio 950. “More and more we are seening that public schools are relying in libraries as places for students to do homework, access the Internet … And it’s very important that they’re able to use the library and feel that it’s a safe place.”

Currently, there are eight categories on Michigan’s gun-free list: banks and credit unions; churches; courts; theaters; sports arenas; day-care centers; hospitals, and establishments that serve liquor.

The issue of guns in libraries was the subject of a 2011 court case involving the Capital Area District Library and Michigan Open Carry, in which the two organizations battled over CADL’s policy not to allow guns in their libraries.

The lower courts ruled in favor of Michigan Open Carry. Last November, the Michigan Supreme Court declined to hear the library’s appeal.

Rob Harris, spokesman for Michigan Open Carry, told MLive the library’s actions in the June 8 situation were “unacceptable.
He believes library owes the man an apology.


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