LIBRARY REACTS TO GUN INCIDENTS: ENFORCEMENT OF LIBRARY GUN BAN IS FOR SAFETY OF ALL PATRONS
Since December 11, 2010, the Downtown Lansing location of the Capital Area District Library has been the site of regular visits by openly armed members of the group Michigan Open Carry (MOC). The MOC members have attempted to openly carry rifles and handguns in CADL’s Downtown Lansing library. “Carrying weapons is in direct violation of CADL’s Code of Conduct and is also causing a great deal of alarm and panic among staff and patrons” according to Lance Werner the Director of CADL. Most recently, a staff member was so terrified that she was unable to work and had to be removed from her shift at a public service desk.
CADL’s Code of Conduct states “All weapons are banned from Library premises to the fullest extent permitted by law”. Because the Capital Area District Library is an autonomous municipal entity under Michigan law, with policy making authority, the Board of Trustees has the ability to set policy that is legally enforceable. All public libraries have some type of Code of Conduct to ensure appropriate behavior and a safe environment for all visitors, adults and children. “CADL’s weapon’s policy will continue to be enforced unless the Board is otherwise instructed by a court of law” Werner said.
CADL contracts with Joseph A. Young & Associates to provide security services at our Downtown Lansing and South Lansing locations. In each instance where an openly armed member of MOC has visited the Downtown location, a security guard has asked the person to leave because carrying weapons in the library violates CADL’s Code of Conduct. Initially, these MOC visitors complied, but recently have refused to leave stating that they have the right to open carry in CADL locations. According to Werner, “At first, the Lansing Police Department was willing to help enforce CADL’s Code of Conduct with respect to the open carrying of firearms. Unfortunately, LPD stopped responding to CADL’s calls for assistance”.
As a result, CADL has had to solely rely on the expertise and willingness of security personnel from Joseph A. Young to manage conflicts arising from MOC armed visits. As a preventive measure, security guards are being placed with open carry visitors so as to avoid potential conflict with some of CADL’s patrons. One of the larger concerns is that patrons could misread a situation and attempt to disarm a gun carrying MOC visitor.
“It is very important to me that the safety of our customers and staff comes first” Werner said. “Sadly, the repeated attempts to violate CADL’s Code of Conduct by MOC members carrying weapons in to the library is making our goal of ‘safety first’ more costly for CADL” he added.
The Capital Area District Library system serves all of Ingham County with the exception of East Lansing. For more information, visit cadl.org.