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Mike Kelly School Law Attorney

Possession of Weapons on School Grounds

The safety and well-being of students, teachers, and staff in Michigan schools is a top priority for the state government, educators, and parents alike. One significant concern in recent years has been the possession of weapons on school grounds. In response, the State of Michigan has enacted strict laws to regulate the possession and use of weapons within educational institutions. It is important to understand Michigan’s legal framework for addressing the possession of weapons on school grounds, the potential consequences of violating these laws, and the various measures taken by schools to ensure safety.

Weapons in Michigan’s Schools

Bringing a weapon to school is a serious matter. Federal, state and local laws regulate weapon possession in school zones. Additionally, each school may have separate policies regarding the issue. Michigan law prohibits dangerous weapons on school property for both public and private schools. If a student, or any person is caught with one on school property, they will face serious consequences. So, if a school official confiscates a dangerous weapon from you, or your child, contact a juvenile defense attorney.

Michigan’s Legal Framework

A firearm being pulled out from a blue backpack from a small handThe Michigan Penal Code MCL 750.237a specifically addresses the possession of weapons on school grounds. According to this law, it is illegal for any person to possess a firearm or any other dangerous weapon on the premises of any educational institution, including public and private schools, colleges, and universities. The statute also extends to school buses and other vehicles used to transport students.

Dangerous weapons, as defined by Michigan law, include firearms, pneumatic guns, knives with blades longer than three inches, brass knuckles, blackjacks, clubs, and other objects that can be used to cause bodily harm or death. It is important to note that there are certain exceptions to this prohibition, such as possession by a peace officer, a person with a valid concealed pistol license (CPL) in limited circumstances, or possession for purposes of an approved school activity or event.

School and Legal Consequences Related to Weapons’ Possession or Crimes on School Grounds

School consequences vary depending on the district’s policies, the age of the student, and the weapon. However, bringing a weapon to school remains a serious offense and students may face one or more of the following consequences:

  • Suspension or expulsion: Generally, a student will be immediately removed from the school building by parents, or law enforcement. Suspension, or expulsion may apply depending on the circumstances. Either may affect college admissions, scholarships, or future employment.
  • Removal from extracurricular activities: During suspension, a student may be prohibited from participating in sports, or other school related activities.
  • Counseling: A student may be required to see the in school counselor, or seek outside professional help as a condition of remaining in school.

School administrators must confiscate weapons found on school property if possible. Then, the incident must be reported to law enforcement and parents. If a school official is unable to obtain the weapon, they must call the police for assistance. When someone is found with a dangerous weapon on school property they may be arrested, or charged depending on the weapon and local laws. Since Michigan law prohibits dangerous weapons on school grounds students may face the following legal consequences:

  • Imprisonment
  • Community service
  • Fines
  • Charged with a misdemeanor (up to 93 days in jail and fined up to $2000)
  • Possessing a firearm is a felony (up to four years in jail and fined up to $2000)
  • Enhanced charges due to schools’ designation as “weapons free zone”

What Is Considered a Dangerous Weapon under Michigan Law?

Michigan law lists the following as dangerous weapons: firearm, dagger, dirk, stiletto, knife with a blade over 3 inches in length, pocket knife opened by a mechanical device, iron bar, or brass knuckles. It remains unlawful to possess any dangerous weapons in school and each school may expand this list. Remember, it is illegal to possess these weapons on school grounds.

It’s important to note that school grounds include more than the school building and parking lot. Students need to know that riding on the school bus for a field trip is considered “on school grounds.” Also, any school sporting event, or extracurricular activity held off site is “on school grounds.” Basically, all activities associated with school are considered School Zone activities regardless of location.

Consequences of Violating the Law

Violating the law on possession of weapons on school grounds can result in severe consequences. If found guilty, an individual can face criminal charges, which may lead to imprisonment, fines, or both. The severity of the punishment depends on the type of weapon involved and the circumstances of the offense.

For example, possessing a firearm on school property is considered a felony and can result in up to four years in prison, a fine of up to $2,000, or both. Possessing a pneumatic gun or other dangerous weapons can result in a misdemeanor, with a punishment of up to 93 days in jail, a fine of up to $500, or both. In addition to these penalties, students who bring weapons to school may also face disciplinary actions, such as suspension or expulsion.

Measures to Ensure Safety

In an effort to prevent the possession of weapons on school grounds, Michigan schools have implemented various safety measures, including:

  • Zero-tolerance policies: Many schools have adopted a zero-tolerance policy, which mandates automatic suspension or expulsion for students caught possessing a weapon on school property. These policies are intended to send a clear message that weapons are not tolerated in educational environments.
  • School resource officers (SROs): Many schools have partnered with local law enforcement agencies to place trained SROs on campus. SROs serve as a visible deterrent to would-be offenders and can quickly respond to incidents involving weapons or violence.
  • Metal detectors: Some schools have installed metal detectors at entrances to help identify and prevent individuals from bringing weapons onto school grounds.
  • Surveillance systems: Video surveillance systems installed in strategic locations can help monitor school grounds and identify potential threats.
  • Anonymous reporting: Schools often provide students, staff, and parents with anonymous reporting systems, such as hotlines or online forms, to report any concerns related to weapons or violence on campus.

Gun-Free School Zone Laws and Exceptions

Students deserve to feel safe in school. That’s one reason strict laws were passed decades ago to protect students. Gun-free school zone laws are enhancement statutes. Basically, these laws increase the penalties for carrying a gun on school property.

There are a few exceptions to gun-free school zone laws. First of all, a law enforcement officer may carry a firearm. Second, a CPL holder may carry a firearm hidden in their glovebox when picking up their child from school UNLESS the school has a different policy on this. For example, A CPL holder may have a concealed handgun in their motor vehicle. Yet, some colleges and universities have banned all firearms on campuses. Therefore, no one may have a gun in their car on those campuses.

As a result, always check each school’s policies before bringing any weapon on campus. Finally, always contact an experienced criminal attorney if you or anyone in your family is accused of possessing a dangerous weapon in a school zone. Additionally, if you or anyone in your family was approached or threatened in a school zone, contact an attorney to ensure your rights were protected.

When To Hire Legal Help

The possession of weapons on school grounds in Michigan is a serious offense, with potentially severe consequences for those involved. Students, parents and others have found themselves facing weapons charges over the years, sometimes as a result of a misunderstanding or simple mistake. Because of the current social climate surrounding this, facing these charges can seem to be an insurmountable challenge.

For this reason it is strongly recommended to work with an experienced school offense attorney specializing in this subfield of law. The attorneys at Kelly and Kelly PLLC have decades of combined experience in these matters, with a track record of producing the best possible legal outcomes for their clients. If you are in need of legal assistance regarding school weapons charges or any other sort of school offense, please do not hesitate to contact our office today to see how we can help.

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