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Library weapons policies considered

Marie Havenga • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:49 AM

Loutit District Library Director John Martin said he's “disappointed” in the court decision that reversed a lower court ruling.

Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina ruled more than a year ago that patrons could not bring firearms into the Capital Area District Library in Lansing. But members of Michigan Open Carry, a gun rights advocacy group, sought to allow the public to bring weapons into public libraries.

The appeals court concluded late last month that it is up to the state, not local jurisdictions or libraries, to set firearm laws.

That ruling appears to be in direct opposition to current Loutit District Library policy. It states “all weapons (including but not limited to any firearm, knife with a blade longer than 3 inches, blackjack, bludgeon or club) are banned from library premises.”

Loutit rules allow only law enforcement and library security personnel to be armed.

“I think it's a little disappointing — especially in this day and age with what's going on in the world — that somebody would even think that it was a good idea to bring a weapon into a public place, especially a public place that's got little children," Martin said.

Martin said the library board's policy committee will likely discuss the ruling and how it affects current rules.

Martin has been Loutit's director for only 18 months, but he said he doesn't recall hearing about any incidents involving weapons at the Grand Haven library. He said he doesn't expect that to change because of the court ruling.

“We have a pretty responsible community here,” Martin said. “It started as an issue at the library in Lansing and a group of people who were trying to make a political point. Common sense generally rules. I don't expect any negative reaction here — I would hope not, anyway.”

Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Chief Roger DeYoung said he also doesn't anticipate any problems stemming from the appeals court ruling.

“Most people that have (carrying a concealed weapon permit) are law-abiding citizens," he said. "It's the people who don't have the (permits) that are causing the problems. I don't see any issue with it at all.”

Spring Lake District Library Director Claire Sheridan said that library's policy does not forbid weapons, nor does it state that weapons are allowed.

“It really does not specifically say anything about weapons,” she said. “It's in accordance with the law. Our attorney was very clear that libraries, in his opinion, could not forbid patrons to bring weapons into the library. Clearly, the courts stand by the law as it is now.”

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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