Library Battles Gun Rights Group Over Weapons Policy

By: Alex Goldsmith Email
By: Alex Goldsmith Email

A debate over Michigan's "open carry" law as it pertains to libraries has been going in the area since December.

It started when a member of Michigan Open Carry entered the Capital Area District Library's downtown branch with a shotgun. He was asked to leave and complied only after Lansing police showed up.

"Last Monday we had two armed men, possibly three, who sat down in the teen section and refused to leave even though they were told that they were in violation of our policy and trespassing," said Lance Werner, director of the Capital Area District Library. "I'm a little perplexed by the whole thing."

Lansing Police were called again and responded, but did not enter the library or remove the men. Werner says they were monitored by library security for 90 minutes before they left.

Michigan Open Carry says that since the library is a public authority created by the city and county, it doesn't have the ability make policies that override state law.

"This is about my sense of security," said Phillip Hofmeister. "We're not trying to single out the library."

Hofmeister says there's legitimate reasons to need a weapon in a library.

"Why the library? Why anywhere else?" said Hofmeister. "There are a variety of people loitering outside the library that could be potentially threatening."

But Werner says the library has its "No Weapons" policy for a reason.

"It enables us to provide a safe secure environment," said Werner. "I don't want anybody to feel in danger here. Safety is priority one for us.

And they're not backing down. Werner says they are a separate entity from the city and county and can enforce their policies.

"Until we are told by a court of law that our policy is invalid, we will continue to enforce the policy," said Vince Spagnuolo, general counsel for the CADL.


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