Author Topic: How to contact municipalities’ on their illegal firearm ban  (Read 5966 times)

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Offline TheQ

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Credits for this post to Brian Jeffs:

MOC, Inc. often gets contacted about local municipality’s firearm bans e.g., parks, building, ordinances, etc.  While MOC Inc. is interested in your inquiries, we are a volunteer organization, with limited resources and many irons in the fire.  At this time we are unable to respond to each notice.  Because we can’t communicate with every municipality about their illegal ban we have created a guide to help the citizen do this on their own.  If your area has a regional coordinator (map), contact them for guidance in this endeavor as well.  Regional teams can be emailed at the following address:
upregion@miopencarry.org (Upper Peninsula)
nwregion@miopencarry.org (North West)
neregional@miopencarry.org (North East)
swregion@miopencarry.org (South West)
seregion@miopencarry.org (South East region)


Below you will find tips, some history on the state preemption statute and examples of letters to send to community officials.  We hope this guide helps you and inspires you to take on the responsibility of speaking truth to authority and to strengthen our firearm rights.

PREEMPTION:

In 1990, the Michigan legislature enacted MCL 123.1102 which provides, in pertinent part:  A local unit of government shall not impose special taxation on, enact or enforce any ordinance or regulation pertaining to, or regulate in any other manner the ownership, registration, purchase, sale, transfer, transportation, or possession of pistols or other firearms, ammunition for pistols or other firearms, or components of pistols or other firearms, except as otherwise provided by federal law or a law of this state.  THE MICHIGAN  COURT of APPEALS CONCLUDED: April 29, 2003 9:10 am. v No. 242237 In sum, we conclude that § 1102 is a statute that specifically imposes a prohibition on local units of government from enacting and enforcing any ordinances or regulations pertaining to the transportation and possession of firearms, and thus preempts any ordinance or regulation of a local unit of government concerning these areas.

Further, we conclude that the specific language of the 2000 amendments to MCL 28.421 et seq., particularly §§ 5c and 5o, which were adopted more than a decade after the enactment of § 1102, do not repeal § 1102 or otherwise reopen this area to local regulation of the carrying of firearms.17 Accordingly, we hold that the Ferndale ordinance is preempted by state law and, consequently, we reverse.  MCRGO v. Ferndale: The Michigan Court of Appeals held that local units of government may not impose restrictions upon firearms possession.   

This simply means that unless there is a state law regulating firearms, local units of governments CANNOT regulate the possession of firearms.  They can however regulate hunting and the discharge of firearms and all other types of weapons (knives, BB, air-soft, replicas and toy guns, archery, etc.).

Some cities use the court exemption saying their building is a court, which may be true, however verify this assertion is accurate.  For example the city of Lansing bans firearms from their municipal building because of a court on the 5th floor.  It is unreasonable that they claim it, but a challenge would most likely fail.  So make sure their exemptions are valid.

The state preemption law is the basis of your argument on getting your local government to correct their unlawful firearm ban.

1. Step one is draft a letter outlining the violation.  Be sure to document their unlawful firearm ordinance.  Include this violation within your letter.  It is important to keep the letter short, simple and to the point.  Don’t emotionalize or state opinions or feeling on their unlawful ban.  If you need to take other steps like appear at city meetings, etc. you will have the opportunity to elaborate then.  The goal is to put them on notice and to call for action in correcting the violation.

2. Next, determine who you should contact.  We recommend you address the letter to the local leading official (Mayor, Supervisor, etc.) and cc copies to the chief of police and the city attorney (if known).

3. Write your correspondence
An email is the fastest and best way to document your letter of concern, but a certified letter sent via the USPS is a viable option.  A certified letter documents that the person actually received your letter, it does not show they have read your letter.  Of course the same can be said of an email and some people send both an email and a certified letter.  Using email keeps a running record of communications.

At the end of the letter ask for a dead-line for action.  For example ask them to respond with their intentions within so many business days.  7 days is a fair amount of time for them to respond.  Also thank them for their time and effort.  Stay polite, but firm and always be professional.

Check very carefully for grammatical and spelling errors, you want to project a professional and educated image.  MOC, Inc. is happy to have one of our volunteers review and comment on your letter before you send it.  In fact you can blind copy (BCC) the MOC, Inc. Board when you actually send the letter.  This helps keep MOC, Inc. in the loop.

4. Follow-up
Often you will get a response saying the matter has been turned over to their legal staff for review.  Find out who that is and keep after them to make a decision.  If the legal advice is that their attorney thinks their ban is legal, ask for citations of the law that supports that opinion.  Keep after them, often they like to stall in hopes you will go away.  Remember the law is on your side in this legal argument.  They have no defense for their unlawful ban.

Generally the local government will acknowledge their violation and will make an attempt to correct it.  Be sure to follow up with any of their promises.  Many say they will do something and never complete their promise.

Also keep in mind there is no law that says they have to change their ordinance; it only says they can’t enforce it.  Many anti-gun cities will keep the ordinance and signs up as a defacto gun ban hoping the uniformed will think it’s the law.  It’s sleazy, but until there are consequences in the law, some will continue to do this.

If you don’t receive a reply by your dead-line, resend the email with a note asking for their response and any action they plan to make.  If they continue to ignore you the next step is to meet in person with the local head official.  Keep the meeting polite and to the point.

If a personal meeting doesn’t get results the next thing you can do is attend a city meeting and publicly express your concerns.  You can use the gun forums to ask local people for support in attending the meeting.  Contacting the local media is also an option.  At this point in your efforts MOC, Inc. may be able to offer more support and even attend the meeting with you.  Keep MOC, Inc. apprised of your status.

SAMPLE LETTERS: Modify as needed.

Letter to inform of a local ordinance or park ban
Quote
Dear [City Official]:

My name is [your name] and I want to inform you that the [city, county] has an unlawful firearm ban.  The local ordinance [paste local ordinance here] is in violation of Michigan law MCL 123.1102 which prohibits all local forms of government from enforcing ANY firearm law, rules or restrictions stricter than those of the state.

In 1990, the Michigan legislature enacted MCL 123.1102 which provides, in pertinent part:  A local unit of government shall not impose special taxation on, enact or enforce any ordinance or regulation pertaining to, or regulate in any other manner the ownership, registration, purchase, sale, transfer, transportation, or possession of pistols or other firearms, ammunition for pistols or other firearms, or components of pistols or other firearms, except as otherwise provided by federal law or a law of this state.

THE MICHIGAN  COURT of APPEALS CONCLUDED: April 29, 2003 9:10 am. v No. 242237 In sum, we conclude that § 1102 is a statute that specifically imposes a prohibition on local units of government from enacting and enforcing any ordinances or regulations pertaining to the transportation and possession of firearms, and thus preempts any ordinance or regulation of a local unit of government concerning these areas.

Further, we conclude that the specific language of the 2000 amendments to MCL 28.421 et seq., particularly §§ 5c and 5o, which were adopted more than a decade after the enactment of § 1102, do not repeal § 1102 or otherwise reopen this area to local regulation of the carrying of firearms.17 Accordingly, we hold that the Ferndale ordinance is preempted by state law and, consequently, we reverse.  MCRGO v. Ferndale: The Michigan Court of Appeals held that local units of government may not impose restrictions upon firearms possession

I ask that the city remove all no firearm signs from [City parks, etc.] and remove the firearm possession portion from your ordinance.  If you have any question for me please contact me via email.

I ask that you notify me with a response within 7 business days.  I thank you for your time and effort in this regard.

Sincerely,

[Name-address-contact info]

FIREARMS AND AMMUNITION (EXCERPT)

Act 319 of 1990 123.1102 Regulation of pistols or other firearms.

Sec. 2.

A local unit of government shall not impose special taxation on, enact or enforce any ordinance or regulation pertaining to, or regulate in any other manner the ownership, registration, purchase, sale, transfer, transportation, or possession of pistols or other firearms, ammunition for pistols or other firearms, or components of pistols or other firearms, except as otherwise provided by federal law or a law of this state.

The following links provide the specific places where firearms cannot be carried.

Places a concealed firearm cannot be possessed:

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(3pbzmc55ka0okqzv43efw0eq))/mileg.aspx?page=GetObject&objectname=mcl-28-425o

Places a firearm cannot be possessed without a concealed pistol license:

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(xsa3uwernkhiov55mr1kvw55))/mileg.aspx?page=GetObject&objectname=mcl-750-234d

A sample letter for making a complaint of an unlawful enforcement of a local firearm ban.  To be used if you were officially contacted and told you could not possess firearms within a public place.
Quote
Dear [City Official]:

My name is [your name] and I want to inform you of the unlawful actions taken by [Officers name] on [date, time and place].  On the date in question I was [relate a short summary of incident].

For example.  I was in the park on the day in question and was approached by Office Smith of the Any Town PD about my lawfully possessed firearm.  He told me that firearms were not allowed in the park.  I explained that the state preemption law prohibited local units of government from enacting and enforcing firearm bans.  He stated that he didn’t care and forced me to either put my firearm in my vehicle or leave.  No wishing to make a scene I complied with his unlawful order and left

As you may know In 1990, the Michigan legislature enacted MCL 123.1102 which provides, in pertinent part:  A local unit of government shall not impose special taxation on, enact or enforce any ordinance or regulation pertaining to, or regulate in any other manner the ownership, registration, purchase, sale, transfer, transportation, or possession of pistols or other firearms, ammunition for pistols or other firearms, or components of pistols or other firearms, except as otherwise provided by federal law or a law of this state.

THE MICHIGAN  COURT of APPEALS CONCLUDED: April 29, 2003 9:10 am. v No. 242237 In sum, we conclude that § 1102 is a statute that specifically imposes a prohibition on local units of government from enacting and enforcing any ordinances or regulations pertaining to the transportation and possession of firearms, and thus preempts any ordinance or regulation of a local unit of government concerning these areas.

Further, we conclude that the specific language of the 2000 amendments to MCL 28.421 et seq., particularly §§ 5c and 5o, which were adopted more than a decade after the enactment of § 1102, do not repeal § 1102 or otherwise reopen this area to local regulation of the carrying of firearms.17 Accordingly, we hold that the Ferndale ordinance is preempted by state law and, consequently, we reverse.  MCRGO v. Ferndale: The Michigan Court of Appeals held that local units of government may not impose restrictions upon firearms possession

I would like you to correct this ordinance and inform you police department that they cannot enforce this ordinance.  Please notify me with a response within 7 business days of the actions taken to correct this situation.

If you have any question for me please contact me via email.  I thank you for your time and effort in this regard.

Sincerely,

[Name-address-contact info]

FIREARMS AND AMMUNITION (EXCERPT)

Act 319 of 1990 123.1102 Regulation of pistols or other firearms.

Sec. 2.

A local unit of government shall not impose special taxation on, enact or enforce any ordinance or regulation pertaining to, or regulate in any other manner the ownership, registration, purchase, sale, transfer, transportation, or possession of pistols or other firearms, ammunition for pistols or other firearms, or components of pistols or other firearms, except as otherwise provided by federal law or a law of this state.

The following links provide the specific places where firearms cannot be carried.

Places a concealed firearm cannot be possessed:

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(3pbzmc55ka0okqzv43efw0eq))/mileg.aspx?page=GetObject&objectname=mcl-28-425o

Places a firearm cannot be possessed without a concealed pistol license:

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(xsa3uwernkhiov55mr1kvw55))/mileg.aspx?page=GetObject&objectname=mcl-750-234d

Quote
Dear [City Official]:

My name is [your name] and I want to inform you of the unlawful actions taken by [Officers name] on [date, time and place].  On the date in question I was [relate a short summary of incident].

I attended the [Local Festival] this past weekend that there was a no weapons sign at the entrance to the event.  [Relate incident here, keep short and to the point].

As you may know firearm laws are preempted by the state and local municipalities cannot ban firearms from city parks and centers.   Even if city property is rented to a private company or organization, the property is STILL public property.  The issuance of a use permit or rental agreement does not change that fact and allow Michigan firearm laws to be circumvented.  Michigan law MCL123.1102 prohibits all local forms of government, including cities from enacting or enforcing ANY firearm laws, rules or restrictions stricter than those of the state. There is no Michigan law barring firearms from city parks.

In regards to an event like this being called an entertainment facility the law and an Attorney General opinion has stated that outdoor venues are not a facility and do not fall under this statute.

In regards to alcohol being served the state law requires that the area that serves alcohol be defined by some barrier or fencing to distinguish that area from the general population.

Additionally you may know that a CPL holder can open carry in any of the gun free zones listed in MCL 750.234d.

Prior to the Arts Beats and Eats in Royal Oak MOC, Inc. and others brought their firearm ban to the attention of their legal department and city council in an effort to quietly correct their illegal firearm ban.  Their attorney’s correctly removed the ban on firearms.  More MOC, Inc. has worked with the city of Detroit to correct their firearm ban at the hugely successful WYCD Downtown Hoedown held at Hart Plaza as well as the Muskegon Summer Celebration.   It is my hope we can quietly correct the illegal firearm ban your city currently employs during events held on public property.

The actions requested are to remove all no firearm signs from all city parks and stop firearm bans at future public events on public property.   If you have any questions please contact me via email.

I ask that you respond with your plan of action in this regard within 7 days.  Thank you for your time and efforts in this regard.

 Sincerely,

[Name-address-contact info]

FIREARMS AND AMMUNITION (EXCERPT)

Act 319 of 1990  123.1102 Regulation of pistols or other firearms.

Sec. 2.

A local unit of government shall not impose special taxation on, enact or enforce any ordinance or regulation pertaining to, or regulate in any other manner the ownership, registration, purchase, sale, transfer, transportation, or possession of pistols or other firearms, ammunition for pistols or other firearms, or components of pistols or other firearms, except as otherwise provided by federal law or a law of this state.

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(ag5wdofrndiyih45luzhqmam))/mileg.aspx?page=GetObject&objectname=mcl-123-1102

The following links provide the specific places where firearms cannot be carried. Nowhere in those places is a park mentioned.

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(3pbzmc55ka0okqzv43efw0eq))/mileg.aspx?page=GetObject&objectname=mcl-28-425o

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(xsa3uwernkhiov55mr1kvw55))/mileg.aspx?page=GetObject&objectname=mcl-750-234d

The following Attorney General opinion offers additional guidance concerning public park areas.

A municipal outdoor recreation park does not, by itself, constitute an "entertainment facility" within the meaning of section 5o(1)(f) of the Concealed Pistol Licensing Act, and thus is not a gun-free zone as established by that statute.

Opinion No. 7120

You have asked whether a municipal outdoor recreation park, by itself, constitutes an "entertainment facility" within the meaning of section 5o(1)(f) of the Concealed Pistol Licensing Act that creates gun-free zones.

We understand that by the use of the term "outdoor recreation park" you mean a natural area of land and water, consisting of lawns, trees, gardens, picnic tables, baseball diamonds, tennis courts, ponds, lakes, or rivers.

The Concealed Pistol Licensing Act, 1927 PA 372, MCL 28.421 et seq, regulates the possession and carrying of concealed pistols. The Act prohibits persons from carrying a concealed pistol unless they have been licensed in accordance with the provisions of that Act. Amendatory 2000 PA 381 made significant changes to the Act. Section 5b(7) sets forth specific qualifications a person must possess in order to receive a license to carry a concealed pistol and further provides that a county concealed weapon licensing board "shall issue a license" to an applicant who meets those requirements. The Act also provides that a person who is issued a license under the Act may carry a concealed pistol "anywhere in this state" except in certain designated classes of locations listed in section 5o of the Act. Section 5c(2). Those excepted locations, commonly referred to as "gun

free zones," include the following:

 

(f) An entertainment facility that the individual knows or should know has a seating capacity of 2,500 or more individuals or that has a sign above each public entrance stating in letters not less than 1-inch high a seating capacity of 2,500 or more individuals.

The statutory term "entertainment facility" is not defined by the Legislature. The question therefore arises whether a municipal outdoor park, as described in your request, constitutes an entertainment facility for purposes of the gun-free zones created by section 5o(1)(f) of the Act. Words not defined by the Legislature are to be given their generally understood meaning consistent with the intent of the Legislature. Royal Globe Ins Co v Frankenmuth Mutual Ins Co, 419 Mich 565, 573; 357 NW2d 652 (1984). Courts will consult dictionaries to ascertain the meaning of undefined statutory terms unless the legislative intent may be discerned from the statute itself. People v Stone, 463 Mich 558, 563; 621 NW2d 702 (2001). The term "entertainment" is defined as an act to divert, amuse or to cause someone's time to pass agreeably, such as a concert. Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged (1964). The term "facility" is defined as something built or constructed to perform some particular function. Id.

A reading of all the words contained in section 5o(1)(f) of the Act supports the conclusion that the Legislature intended that the term "entertainment facility" constitute a structure or building that has a known seating capacity of 2,500 or more persons, or that has signs above each public entrance stating that the facility has a seating capacity of 2,500 or more persons. Since the Legislature has not required that an entertainment facility be totally self-enclosed, such a facility could consist of a bandshell, amphitheater, or similar structure, provided it has the required, known seating capacity noted above or has appropriate signage above each public entrance indicating a seating capacity of 2,500 or more. This reading of section 5o(1)(f) is supported by the legislative history of 2000 HB 4530, enacted as 2000 PA 231. Both House Legislative Analyses, HB 4530, June 8, 1999, and January 4, 2001, state that HB 4530 would "[p]rohibit a licensee from carrying a concealed weapon in certain public places, such as a school, theater, sports arena, library, or hospital." There is no mention in either bill analysis that an outdoor recreation park, by itself, would constitute a gun-free zone. It is appropriate to rely on the legislative history because of the ambiguity in the statutory language. Luttrell v Dep't of Corr, 421 Mich 93, 103; 365 NW2d 74 (1985).

While the Legislature could certainly have included municipal and other outdoor recreation parks within the Act's list of gun-free zones, it chose not to do so. An entertainment facility having a seating capacity of 2,500 or more persons clearly refers to a building or other structure. Accordingly, if an outdoor recreation park includes a band shell, amphitheater, or similar structure that has the required seating capacity, that portion of the park would constitute a gun-free zone under section 5o(f) of the Act.

Finally, section 5o of the Act is a penal statute that must be strictly construed unless the Legislature indicates otherwise. MCL 750.2; People v Gilbert, 414 Mich 191, 211; 324 NW2d 834 (1982). There is nothing in the Concealed Pistol Licensing Act or in its legislative history to suggest that this statute be construed in a manner different from the plain language adopted by the Legislature.

It is my opinion, therefore, that a municipal outdoor recreation park does not, by itself, constitute an "entertainment facility" within the meaning of section 5o(1)(f) of the Concealed Pistol Licensing Act, and thus is not a gun-free zone as established by that statute.

JENNIFER M. GRANHOLM Attorney General http://www.ag.state.mi.us/opinion/datafiles/2000s/op10195.htm
« Last Edit: August 15, 2012, 04:05:00 PM by TheQ »
I Am Not A Lawyer (nor a gunsmith).

Offline TheQ

  • Website Content Manager
  • MOC Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4263
    • Michigan Open Carry, Inc.
  • First Name (Displayed): Phillip
Re: How to contact municipalities’ on their illegal firearm ban
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2012, 08:04:57 PM »
Another letter from Brian Jeffs to Flint Township.

Quote
Dear Ms. Miller:
 
My name is Brian Jeffs, Director of Research for Michigan Open Carry, Inc., and I want to inform you that Flint Township has enacted a unlawful firearm ban at public meetings and in public buildings, including the police department building lobby.  This firearm ban from township meetings/buildings is in violation of Michigan law MCL 123.1102 which prohibits all local units of government from enforcing ANY firearm law, rules or restrictions stricter than those of the state.

In 1990, the Michigan legislature enacted MCL 123.1102 which provides, in pertinent part:  A local unit of government shall not impose special taxation on, enact or enforce any ordinance or regulation pertaining to, or regulate in any other manner the ownership, registration, purchase, sale, transfer, transportation, or possession of pistols or other firearms, ammunition for pistols or other firearms, or components of pistols or other firearms, except as otherwise provided by federal law or a law of this state.

THE MICHIGAN  COURT of APPEALS CONCLUDED: April 29, 2003 v No. 242237 (MCRGO v. Ferndale)

“In sum, we conclude that § 1102 is a statute that specifically imposes a prohibition on local units of government from enacting and enforcing any ordinances or regulations pertaining to the transportation and possession of firearms, and thus preempts any ordinance or regulation of a local unit of government concerning these areas.

Further, we conclude that the specific language of the 2000 amendments to MCL 28.421 et seq., particularly §§ 5c and 5o, which were adopted more than a decade after the enactment of § 1102, do not repeal § 1102 or otherwise reopen this area to local regulation of the carrying of firearms.17 Accordingly, we hold that the Ferndale ordinance is preempted by state law and, consequently, we reverse.  MCRGO v. Ferndale: The Michigan Court of Appeals held that local units of government may not impose restrictions upon firearms possession.”

In 2012 THE MICHIGAN  COURT of APPEALS CONCLUDED: October 25, 2012 V No. 304582 (CADL V MOC, Inc.)

“We conclude that state law preempts CADL’s weapon policy to the extent that it attempts to regulate firearms contrary to the restrictions set forth in MCL 123.1102.”

I ask that the city rescind this unlawful firearm ban and remove any signage or notice that prohibits firearms from all public places. If you have any question for me please contact me via email.

I ask that you notify me with a response within 7 business days.  I thank you for your time and effort in this regard.

FIREARMS AND AMMUNITION (EXCERPT)
 
Act 319 of 1990 123.1102 Regulation of pistols or other firearms.
 
Sec. 2.
A local unit of government shall not impose special taxation on, enact or enforce any ordinance or regulation pertaining to, or regulate in any other manner the ownership, registration, purchase, sale, transfer, transportation, or possession of pistols or other firearms, ammunition for pistols or other firearms, or components of pistols or other firearms, except as otherwise provided by federal law or a law of this state.

The following links provide the specific places where firearms cannot be carried.

Places a concealed firearm cannot be possessed:
 
http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(3pbzmc55ka0okqzv43efw0eq))/mileg.aspx?page=GetObject&objectname=mcl-28-425o
 
Sincerely,
 
Brian Jeffs, M.S. C.P.G.
Director of Research
Michigan Open Carry, Inc.
I Am Not A Lawyer (nor a gunsmith).