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Gun rights groups win temporary injunction against Flint city hall gun ban

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

A judge has granted a temporary injunction blocking the city of Flint from prohibiting guns at city council meetings.

The city entered into a memorandum of understanding with the 67th District Court to impose a gun ban. The city sought the ban after city council members claimed they received threats.

Under the memorandum, in exchange for allowing the court to use space in city hall, the court’s own weapons ban would be expanded to include Flint City Hall.

But several gun-rights groups and two citizens challenged the gun ban. Attorneys for the plaintiffs argued at a hearing last week that the gun ban violated the state's Open Meetings Act (OMA).

7th Circuit Court Judge Brian Pickell agreed. He wrote in his order:

“Defendants are attempting to require a lesser degree of openness relative to their open meetings [i.e., excluding a person from any such meetings based on her/his possession of the subject personal-protection items (e.g., self-defense spray, electro-muscular disruption devices, pocket knives, and firearms)] (hereinafter "said personal-protection items") than the standards for openness provided for in the OMA.”

Pickell’s ruling allows people to bring weapons to any meetings held at city hall, subject to the Open Meetings Act. But the injunction upholds the prohibition of firearms in other public spaces at city hall, for other general business.

Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley said he’s disappointed by the judge’s decision.

“We have seen horrific acts committed in public spaces. It is beyond disappointing that gun lobbyists can use legal tactics that render helpless our best efforts to protect residents,” said Neeley.

Plaintiff Arthur Woodson said the judge saw that Flint's mayor was trying to circumvent the law.

"We have laws for a reason and (Mayor Neeley) needs to follow them," said Woodson, "(Neeley) violated the OMA. We The People have to stand up to the lawless elected officials."

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.