In violence-plagued Flint, Michigan, a local attorney is challenging a long-standing ban on weapons at the administration building of surrounding Genesee County. Attorney K.C. Baran asked the county government to remove prominent signs at the entrances to the building, arguing that the prohibition is contrary to the right to bear arms. According to the Flint Journal, Baran would not say whether or not he carries a firearm. However, the lawyer said “But I think it’s an issue that’s important.”
In response, the county board of commissioners is considering a modification of the ban on weapons in county administration buildings. Board chairman Jamie Curtis has asked Commissioner Tony Brown to present a recommendation on how to move forward on the sign issue. Curtis expressed a desire to avoid a lawsuit and entanglements with attorney Baran. State law prohibits firearms in schools, child care centers, churches, sports arenas and certain entertainment facilities, as well as hospitals and institutions of higher learning. Nonetheless, there is currently no state law that prohibits the porting of firearms in other public buildings.
Currently, there are no metal detectors operating at the county administration building in question, even while there are such detectors at the county courthouse nearby. Visitors to the administration building are on the honor system, and there are no regular patrols of armed peace officers. The building houses the office of the Friend of the Court, which deals in issues such as child support and visitation. Other offices include the treasurer, registrar and county commissioner, besides a credit union.
The Friend of the Court may still adopt a more closely define notification and enforcement procedure, “without infringing on the rights of those who are legally carrying in the administration building,” said Baran, according to the local newspaper.
While some schools in the Flint area have armed officers in the halls, some parents and educators remain chary of firearms and potential violence. This month, the president of the largest teachers’ union asked the state legislature to close a loophole that allows citizens to allows the bearers of concealed weapons permits to openly carry firearms. Earlier this year, a state representative offered legislation that would prevent gun owners from openly carrying firearms in supposedly gun-free zones, including public libraries.
Attorney Baran is a West Point graduate and a former U.S. Army officer. Serving as a volunteer coach at St John the Evangelist Catholic church in nearby Fenton MI, he is a former candidate for Genesee County Prosecutor.