Battle over guns in schools headed to Mich. Supreme Court

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A longstanding and controversial gun debate - should state law overrule a district's wishes when it comes school safety?

The issue has big implications not just for Ann Arbor and Clio schools - but every district in the state.

"We believe that the safety and security of our students and staff is our absolute top priority,” said Ann Arbor Superintendent Dr. Jeanice Swift. 

"The idea of putting a sign out front saying guns are not allowed, does nothing to enhance school safety," said Jim Makowski, Michigan Gun Owners Attorney.

The state's high court may settle a long standing gun debate: can school boards make district properties Gun Free Zones when state law allows people with Concealed Pistol Licenses to open carry firearms on school grounds?

Gun rights lawyers Jim Makowski and Dean Greenblatt say no.

"It's our position that state law trumps what a school wishes to do," Makowski said. 

They'll make their case next Wednesday on the behalf of gun owning parents who ran into trouble open carrying firearms at schools in Clio and Ann Arbor.

"These are not people making 1st Amendment protests about gun rights," said Greenblatt. "These are parents of students who want background checks, who don't have any criminal history, don't have any mental issues, and they have children in the school. These are not the types of people the school district should be concerned about."

"The presence of a gun other than in the hands of a sworn officer, run counter to everything we believe in," Swift said.

In fact, Swift, superintendent of Ann Arbor Public Schools, says they follow an aspect of state law that says the presence of a gun in a school constitutes an emergency.

"The presence of a gun is frightening to a child," she said. "It's disruptive in the classroom and really all we're asking, is that this be a local decision. We feel like these decisions should rest right in the community where you bring your children, you pay taxes for your children to be in school."

Greenblatt disagrees.

"You have a situation where the legislature has already set out what the law is," he said. "And now you are going have people driving through different venues, different jurisdictions not knowing if they're breaking the law."

The debate over guns, their role in society and who should have them and has become more contentious following the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Michigan's Supreme Court may have the final say for one aspect of it and it's anyone's guess where the justices will land on the issue. One possibility: they may urge state lawmakers to come up with clear legislation on the issue.

All arguments are set for next Wednesday. The decision could be made by June.