Libraries might join pistol-free zone list

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — The Dearborn Public Library Commission is considering writing a letter to petition state lawmakers to add libraries to the list of pistol-free zones.

The issue was first addressed Sept. 14 during a Dearborn Public Library Commission meeting.

Although municipalities do not have legal rights to control who can bring firearms inside buildings, according to Michigan Penal Code Act 328, firearms are not allowed in several places for those not carrying a concealed pistol license.

Pistol-free zones include day care centers, casinos, banks, courts, churches, sports arenas, hospitals, theaters and businesses licensed under the Michigan Liquor Control Act, an act where a commission is involve in the distribution and licensing of alcoholic beverages within the state.

According to the law says a pistol is subject to immediate seizure if the CPL holder is carrying a pistol concealed in a “pistol free” area.

Dearborn Public Library Director Maryanne Bartles said the library commission has not acted aside from looking at a sample letter written by Birmingham’s Baldwin Public Library Board — that sent its petition to state representatives about amending the law to open carry, or openly carry a firearm, in public.

“We’re not trying to impact any significant laws,” Bartles said. “We were concerned (about) public libraries and I want to make sure everyone who comes here is comfortable.”

Non-profit gun rights organization Michigan Open Carry Inc. President Phillip Hofmeister said pistol-free zones are “killing zones.”

“Private companies are free to do what they wish but government organizations are there to help protect our rights,” Hofmeister said. “It is kind of disheartening to see government organizations take tax dollars from us and try to restrict our rights.”

Hofmeister said there are several pistol-free zones in Michigan but if someone has a concealed pistol license they can openly carry guns in those places. Hofmeister said although CPL holders can still carry guns in pistol-free zones, those zones are an encroachment on their rights.

“If they add libraries to the list it only ensures that people who have a CPL can open carry,” Hofmeister said. “It won’t get rid of guns in libraries. As an organization we abhor gun control and that is what this is.”

Hofmeister added that a CPL carrier can take a gun to church and the pastor can give the carrier persmission to carry the pistol concealed.

According to a CPL holder’s pistol can be removed if he is carrying it concealed in a pistol-free area.

Forty-four states allow some version of open carry of a handgun, according to Michigan’s open carry laws; six states ban open carry.

Bartles said she doesn’t want to trample on anyone’s rights although she wants libraries placed on the pistol-free zones list.

“There are concerns that if someone is openly carrying a firearm it would frighten people and I guess I don’t understand why public libraries are not on that (pistol-free zone) list,” Bartles said.

Ross Palmer, owner of Great Lakes Firearms Safety Training, based in Ypsilanti, said he does not think public libraries should be added to the list of pistol- free zones.

“This amendment will not reduce crime,” Palmer said. “It will not decrease the propensity of criminals to commit crimes, nor will it make public libraries safer environments.”

Palmer added that the amendment will further limit the liberties of law-abiding concealed pistol license holders and possibly make public libraries less safe.

“If this amendment is added, criminals will feel more emboldened to target these locations,” Palmer said.

State Rep. Joan Bauer (D-Lansing) introduced House Bills 4438 and 4439 in 2011 that would expand a CPL gun-free zone to libraries. The next step is for the House Judiciary Committee to put the bills on the agenda and have a hearing on it.

(Sherri Kolade can be reached at