Open carry rights activist sues University for restricting gun possession on campus

Tuesday, August 11, 2015 - 11:08pm

After igniting controversy at Ann Arbor’s Pioneer High School in March for openly carrying a gun to his little sister’s choir concert, Ann Arbor resident Joshua Wade advocated for the right to open carry again by suing the University for restrictions on bearing arms on campus.

The lawsuit, filed in June, claims the University’s ban of guns on campus to be unconstitutional.

University spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald said the University intends to file a response.

“We expect to file a response to the lawsuit in accordance with the deadline established by the Court of Claims,” Fitzgerald said.

Wade is not affiliated with the University but feels strongly about the University’s ban on guns. He has said he would like to be able to carry his gun on campus.

After Wade carried his gun into Pioneer, Ann Arbor Public Schools announced a ban of all guns on school grounds — despite the state law which allows citizens with concealed carrying licenses to have guns on school grounds.

Currently, the University only allows military and law enforcement officials to carry weapons on campus. In September a Naval ROTC student carrying what appeared to be a gun was incorrectly reported as a possible gunman in the chemistry building, though it was "non-weaponized equipment.”

Article X, Section 2 of the University’s Regents' Ordinances prohibits non-military or security personnel from carrying weapons on campus.

Fitzgerald said the reason for the ban is to create a safe learning environment for students and campus visitors.

“The University will vigorously defend its right to regulate weapons on campus to ensure the safety of students, faculty, staff, patients, health-care providers and hundreds of thousands of visitors, and to foster a supportive learning environment where students and faculty can feel free to explore challenging topics without fear of violence,” Fitzgerald said.

In an e-mail to the Daily, Phillip Hofmeister, president of Michigan Open Carry Inc., an organization promoting lawful open carry of a holstered handgun, said he supports Wade and his legal pursuit.

“We feel that places where guns are banned (by state statute or private property policy) create a criminal empowerment zone,” Hofmeister said. “These are places where criminals carry guns and can use them to harm others (as by their nature, criminals don't care about the law or private property rights), but law abiding citizens are not given the opportunity to protect themselves with their own arms.”

Hofmeister said open carry privileges on campus may protect students from crimes such as sexual assault.

“Many college and university campuses have what some describe as an epidemic of rape,” Hofmeister said. “A handgun is the perfect tool for someone to equalize the ground against their attacker, regardless if they are physically overpowered.”