Gun Group Plans Protest at County Board

Michigan Open Carry Inc., an advocacy group based in Lansing, is encouraging people who live near Ann Arbor to attend the Sept. 18, 2013 meeting of the Washtenaw County board of commissioners and protest a resolution that asks state legislators to repeal Michigan’s version of a “stand your ground” law. Update: The resolution has been removed from the Sept. 18 agenda, but will likely be considered on Oct. 2. See: “‘Stand Your Ground’ Pulled from County Agenda.”

A post on the group’s Facebook page states: “We understand the County Building does not contain a court, but we have not verified this. If it is indeed not a court, open or concealed carry would be lawful and the county building would be covered under preemption.” There is no court in the building where county commissioners hold their meetings, at 220 N. Main St. in downtown Ann Arbor.

At the board’s Sept. 4, 2013 meeting, three people spoke during public commentary, urging commissioners to pass a resolution that would call for the repeal of Michigan’s “stand your ground” law. At that same meeting, board chair Yousef Rabhi indicated his intent to bring forward such a resolution on Sept. 18 – similar to one passed by the Ann Arbor city council on Aug. 8, 2013. Activists have been calling for the repeal in the wake of a Florida verdict in the Trayvon Martin case that was handed down in mid-July. George Zimmerman was acquitted of murder charges in large part because of a defense based on in a case that drew attention to Florida’s “stand your ground” law.

The resolution on the county board’s Sept. 18 agenda urges state legislators and Gov. Rick Snyder to repeal Public Act 309 of 2006 and Public Act 319 of 1990, and “to adopt common-sense gun regulations such as improved background checks, strengthened gun-free zones, and limits on the sale of high-capacity magazines.” [.pdf of proposed resolution on the Sept. 18 agenda]

The Michigan Open Carry Inc. website states four objectives of its group:

to educate and desensitize the public and members of the law enforcement community about the legality of the open carry of a handgun in public;

to exercise a natural right to self defense using the most efficient and common tool, a handgun;

to demonstrate to the public at large that gun owners are one of the most lawful segments of society and they have nothing to fear from the lawful carry of a firearm;

to protect our right to self-defense.

Ann Arbor has seen previous advocacy from open-carry supporters, including a picnic held in Wheeler Park that The Chronicle attended nearly five years ago, in October of 2008.

The county board’s ways & means committee meets at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 18, followed immediately by the regular board meeting where the “stand your ground” resolution will be considered. Though the agenda states that the regular board meeting begins at 6:45 p.m., it usually starts much later – times vary depending on what’s on the agenda. Public commentary is held at the beginning of each meeting, and no advance sign-up is required.