On Thursday, February 2, 2017, the Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS) Board of Education approved changes to the school district’s weapon policy. In the end, all 7 board members were in favor of changing the KPS weapons policy.
Michigan law states that people with concealed carry licenses can carry firearms in schools. However, on December 16, 2016, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that schools and school districts have the legal authority to ban all types of firearms from school grounds. This new law also applies to school events that are held after the school day.
This change in Michigan law is what allowed KPS to change their weapons policy. Before the policy change, individuals with concealed carry licenses were allowed to carry concealed firearms on school grounds. However, it is the change in Michigan law that allowed the KPS Board to create a weapon policy.
Michigan law still states that school districts can allow individuals with concealed carry licenses to carry firearms in schools. The biggest revision is that school districts now have the power to ban all firearms in schools, regardless of a concealed carry license. Under these circumstances, law enforcement are the only people that may carry firearms.
Multiple people from the community spoke at the KPS Board meeting in favor of the change to the policy. No one spoke against the policy.
Bernardo Campus, a Loy Norrix High School graduate and father of two Loy Norrix students, was in attendance at the KPS board meeting. He explained that he is a hunter and gun owner and that guns are tools for shooting things. Campus believes the only reason to carry a gun is if you intend to shoot something.
Trustee Carol McGlinn thanked everyone who attended the meeting and reported that not one person who contacted her considered the policy a bad idea. She felt like it was common sense to not have guns in school and said that she was happy to support the weapons policy.
Just like the KPS board and the speakers at the meeting, there are students at Loy Norrix who agree.
Lamont Goodman, senior at Loy Norrix, is happy with the changes that have been made by the KPS board.
“I feel like banning weapons from schools will be better for the safety of the school. It can decrease the likelihood of future school shootings.” Goodman continued, “I believe this is one of the first steps to making the school a safer place and we will continue to see changes from the KPS Board.”
James Rinehart, a senior at Loy Norrix, feels differently than most people on the change to the KPS weapons policy.
“Individuals lose enough of their rights when they step foot onto school grounds and defending yourself shouldn’t be one of them,” said Rinehart. “If you’re responsible enough to carry everywhere else, then you’re responsible enough to carry at schools.”
Organizations like the National Rifle Association (NRA) have a stance that is similar to Rinehart’s. Ever since the tragic event at Sandy Hook Elementary in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, the NRA has said they believe more guns should be in schools to protect students and teachers from future school shootings.
“Some will want police officers there. Others of them will want private security guards,” said NRA President David Keene in a 2012 interview with CNN. “There may be some place they want volunteers to do it. We’re willing to work with everybody on these questions.”
With the change in the policy, the district gives the KPS superintendent, Dr. Michael F. Rice, the power to report anyone to law enforcement who violates this policy.
KPS also has a general ban on weapons included in the student code of conduct. The term “weapon” means any object which is intended to be used, or is capable of inflicting serious bodily harm or property damage, as well as endangering the health and safety of people.
The new policy does not apply to law enforcement on campus, theatrical props used in appropriate settings and starter pistols used in sporting events.