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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  • by Anonymous on Feb 17, 2011 at 06:59 AM
    The man carrying a shotgun is NOT A MEMBER OF MICHIGAN OPEN CARRY. He's a teen with half a brain and NO AFFILIATION WITH OUR ORGANIZATION. Get it right news media.
  • by Mike Location: Texas on Feb 16, 2011 at 08:19 AM
    I'm a Life Member of the NRA, Life Member of the TSRA, I have a Texas CHL, I am an NRA firearms instructor, and I am an absolute supporter of the 2nd amendment. I have only one thing to say: Thanks, guys. You're a real help to the cause. You're a bunch of *******s. Really. It's legal in Texas to walk around with a slung long gun. Doesn't mean I'm going to do it in a library. The Black Panthers would carry long weapons to Dallas School Board meetings not too long ago. They did it for the same reason you guys did. "Look at me!!! Look at me!!!" You do no one any favors.
  • by kubel Location: Ypsilanti on Feb 14, 2011 at 01:14 AM
    CADL is forbidden from restricting our right to open carry, yet they are doing it anyway. That's what this whole issue boils down to. It doesn't matter how people feel about it. It doesn't matter if we have a reason to bring our guns there. It doesn't matter if they pass rules that forbid it. We have the *liberty* to carry. They don't have the liberty to say we can't. Please understand that MCL 123.1102 is a *law*. It's designed to protect governments from infringing on our rights. Someone asked if we would pull our weapons if someone bothered us. Everyone that I know who open carries will say the same thing: That gun doesn't come out of its holster unless I or someone else is threatened with severe bodily injury, death, or sexual assault. We understand the responsibility that we have as firearm owners. Most of us have our CPL's and have passed extensive background checks and pistol training courses. We have thoroughly proven ourselves to society that we are NOT a threat. Have you?
  • by RT Location: Lansing on Feb 12, 2011 at 07:53 AM
    First off-I'm a NRA member, CPL holder, and the most vociferous advocate of the 2nd Amendment you'll ever find. With that said, even I can see this was nothing more than a "stunt" to stir up cotroversy. Their actions may have been legal (Is it legal? Does Michigan's open carry law extend to long arms??), but it wasn't a cultural/societal norm in this area and these guys knew it. Maybe in another part of the country, but not Lansing. I carry concealed ALL THE TIME (except where not legally allowed) and if I saw two guys come into a place with shotguns I believe I'd think the worst...I don't want to think what may happen beyond that. This act only served to make all gun owners look like nut cases. I wish the open carry group would show more forethought before doing this type of thing.
  • by Anonymous Location: Lansing too on Feb 11, 2011 at 03:48 PM
    @Anonymous in Lansing: And local businesses can state that they are weapon free zones and it's totally legal and you must abide. That has nothing to do with the smoking laws. And I ask you this, when has the Lansing library EVER had a instance/crime when a gun was needed? They have plans in place that are obviously working to keep their customers safe.
  • by Anonymous Location: Lansing on Feb 11, 2011 at 12:09 PM
    Why is it that the library is blatently going against state law and why aren't they being held accountable? According to their own news letter, they admit they are a government entity! (see below) If a business decided tomorrow to establish a smoking section inside their business, you can bet that the city/county would be going after said business and issuing them a citation, possibly worse. Why is it that local units of government aren't held to the same standards? Ask them that! Also, I'm not sure if many of you are aware of this or not, but police are NOT legally obligated to protect ANYONE (see the Supreme Court case, Warren v. District of Columbia). You cannot predict where/when crime will happen. Though you may be unlikely to to be a victim of a crime INSIDE a library, the chances are higher you could be to or from said library.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 11, 2011 at 07:37 AM
    My question to these extremists is just what would you do if someone came up to you and hit you or bothered you in some way? Are you going to pull your weapon? If so we are talking about a whole new ball game.
  • by Anonymous Location: E Lansing on Feb 11, 2011 at 05:20 AM
    Carrying concealed is fine. You have your security and there are strict regulations/classes and background checks to pass in order to get the license. Open Carrying in public places such as a library is daring people to do something; is antagonizing or intimidating people and by these men, bullying. If you are too young or cannot pass the concealed carry classes and checks, that should tell you (and everyone else) something.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 10, 2011 at 07:49 PM
    Both sides are acting like fools. Both want to show that they are in complete authority of the situation. Who cares if if a person with a valid CPL permit has a gun in a public place. That person knows what is required to maintain its safety and if goes outside of what is permitted by law, that person will not be permitted to do anything with a gun ever again. Gun free zones are often targets of maniacs who knows that they are safe for the short term of being fired back upon.
  • by CADL patron Location: Holt on Feb 10, 2011 at 06:23 PM
    I come from a long line of gun owners and hunters. I believe strongly in my right to keep and bear arms. However, these men are making a mockery of that right. Their actions will cause change, but not the ones they want. By striking panic and fear in the hearts of patrons, staff and local lawmakers, they have only brought awareness that libraries should be afforded the same protection that schools and churches have. In my opinion, a legally carried "concealed" weapon - should stay concealed. Flashing your weapon and smirking at staff is not really appropriate behavior for a responsible gun owner. The people I really fear, in the library, are the idiots from MOC. @Jay & Tim, you are smart men. Thanks for contributing such intelligent comments.
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