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Wednesday, December 15,2010

Guns at the library

Fear strikes patrons at the downtown Capital Area District Library Saturday when a man strolled through with a gun over his shoulder

by Andy Balaskovitz
Wednesday, Dec. 15 — A man carrying what appeared to be a rifle or shotgun over his shoulder walked through the downtown Capital Area District Library Saturday afternoon, alarming patrons and staff.

The Lansing Police Department was called and asked the unidentified man to leave the property, which he did, CADL Director Lance Werner said. Efforts to reach the Lansing Police for comment were unsuccessful.

“I don’t know what his motivation was,” Werner said. Werner was not at work that day, but he has read the Police Department’s incident report and saw a photograph of the man with the weapon.

“The patrons were terrified,” he said.

Werner said the man walked around the first and second floors of the library before the police arrived in response to a patron’s call.

Werner said although the man was asked to leave, he is not banned from the property.

The question at hand is if the man had a legal right to carry the long-arm gun in the library. A legal counsel for CADL is investigating the matter, Werner added.

The CADL bans all weapons on its premises. That’s because the library leases the building from the Lansing School District and often coordinates kids programs with local schools, Werner said.

Rob Harris, vice president of Michigan Open Carry, an organization that promotes the right to bear arms in public, contends that it is legal in Michigan to carry a long-arm gun, such as a rifle or shotgun, in public.

“For a long-arm to be carried legally, it has to be in the open,” Harris said, referring to state law.

Section 2 in Chapter 696 of the Lansing Codified Ordinances says no firearms or dangerous weapons can be carried in public places unless it is in a case and is not loaded. However, the ordinance also says state law trumps the city’s policy.

Harris said that Open Carry focuses its efforts on carrying pistols in public and doesn’t necessarily promote the idea of carrying long-arm guns in public.

“We do recognize its legality but it’s not something we focus on as a group,” Harris said.

He added that he was ambivalent toward the man at the library when he first heard of the incident.

“We support all firearm rights. But there’s what is right and what is smart,” he said. “I don’t know if there is a real good reason to carry a long-arm in the middle of a downtown city.”

The man took it further than what Harris would ever consider doing.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense to carry a long arm (in public),” Harris said. “I respect the person’s right to do so, but I wouldn’t do it myself.”


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