Okemos School Board discusses gun-control resolution

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Okemos Public Schools Board of Education President Melanie Lynn

By Lauren N. Shields
The Meridian Times

Okemos Public Schools Board of Education discussed adopting a gun control resolution similar to Ann Arbor public schools’ resolution. Ann Arbor public schools’ resolution, brought to the board’s attention by Board Member Vincent Lyon-Callo, states that, according to Michigan law, anyone with a concealed pistol license is allowed to openly carry firearms into gun-free zones, including schools.

The resolution states that in 1990 the Gun Free School Zones Act was enacted, prohibiting any unauthorized individual from possessing a firearm within a school zone. It also leaves it to the state to decide who is authorized to carry a firearm in a ‘gun free school zone.’ Michigan authorizes those with a concealed pistol license to do so.

The resolution’s purpose is to prohibit open carry of firearms in gun-free school zones, with the exception of law enforcement officials. It was drafted not long after an incident at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor when the police were called on a man openly carrying a firearm during an evening choir concert. The man had a concealed pistol license.

According to Okemos Board of Education President Melanie Lynn, a policy was passed in 2013 prohibiting firearms, from Okemos public schools. If the board were to pass a resolution similar to Ann Arbor’s, it would simply be to encourage legislators to pass into law what its policy already states. If this were to occur, the policy would be backed by law and would, therefore, hold up better in court.

In its meeting on March 23, there was some debate led by Board Member Felix Sharpe over the accuracy of the gun-control laws as stated in the Ann Arbor public schools’ resolution. The board decided that it would meet again to discuss the matter after better educating itself.

“I am not opposed to this resolution. I just don’t think that it is wise for us to support a resolution that is inaccurate — and it is inaccurate,” said Sharpe.

While it may not adopt Ann Arbor schools’ resolution, Lynn said that she thinks the spirit of it is very positive and that Okemos public schools will continue to discuss it.

“Parents were very passionate about what happened in Ann Arbor,” said Lynn. “The fact that a gun could be brought onto their school premises, and of course most parents would feel passionate about that. ‘Let’s make sure that that can’t happen in our schools!

“Given the fact that Okemos public schools already has a policy, parents’ concerns were allayed. They were calmed down about it, but they still want to know that our board of education wants to encourage regulating gun legislation.”

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