MI: Appellate Court Issues Mixed Ruling on Right to Carry at DeVos Place

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Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- In March of 2016, members of Michigan Open Carry (MOC) and Michigan Gun Owners (MGO) were manning a booth they had rented in the DeVos Place Convention Center. They were openly carrying holstered pistols, which has never been against the law in Michigan, except for a small number of restricted areas.

While people with concealed carry permits may not carry a concealed firearm into a school, they may openly carry a holstered pistol in Michigan.  They can openly carry holstered pistols into the State Capitol.

On Friday, May 26, 2017, Judge Joseph Rossi of the Kent County Circuit found for Michigan Open Carry (MOC) and Michigan Gun Owners (MGO). DeVos Place appealed to the Michigan Appeals Court.

On November 27, 2018, The Michigan Appeals Court ruled the Circuit Court erred and needed to make more findings of fact. From mlive.com:

“We conclude that the trial court erred when it ruled that the concealed carry of firearms was not prohibited by statute at DeVos Place because the trial court did not make a finding about seating capacity,” the appeals panel wrote.

“The trial court found that the concealed carry and open carry of firearms was ‘normally permitted' at DeVos Place and DeVos Performance Hall. Therefore, the trial court disagreed with the CAA's statement that the open carry of firearms was ‘rarely' permitted, and it concluded that that the CAA's current firearms policies were unenforceable,” the appeals panel said.

You can read the entire appellate decision here.

A description on the devosplace.org website states the largest venue there has a 2,404 seating capacity.

DeVos Place offers flexible space for meetings, conventions and trade shows as well as performing arts and touring events, and has the capability of hosting a variety of events simultaneously. The convention center features an exhibit hall with 162,000-square-foot of uninterrupted space, a 40,000 square foot ballroom, 26 sub-dividable meeting rooms with over 32,000 square feet of space, a 2404-seat performing arts theater that is home to four performing arts groups, accessible and spacious loading docks and on-site parking.

If a judge rules the seating capacity is over 2,500, then DeVos could ban the concealed carry of firearms there. The law is very specific in that it bans concealed carry.

The appellate court did not differentiate between open carry and concealed carry. It says nothing about open carry, which is odd, because the plaintiffs were openly carrying in the original incident.

The law relevant to entertainment facilities bans concealed carry, not open carry. The statue in question is 28.425o. Here are the relevant parts:

(1) Subject to subsection (5), an individual licensed under this act to carry a concealed pistol, or who is exempt from licensure under section 12a(h), shall not carry a concealed pistol on the premises of any of the following:

(f) An entertainment facility with a seating capacity of 2,500 or more individuals that the individual knows or should know has a seating capacity of 2,500 or more individuals or that has a sign above each public entrance stating in letters not less than 1-inch high a seating capacity of 2,500 or more individuals.

The differentiation is important because, in the Heller Supreme Court decision, a differentiation is made between open carry and concealed carry.  From Heller:

2. Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues.

Many disagree with Heller on this point. The Second Amendment does not differentiate between open carry and concealed carry. It is a mere precedent that restrictions on concealed carry have been tolerated since 1833, more than 40 years after the Bill of Rights was ratified.

The Appeals Court found a government entity could enforce private bans on the carry of firearms. That much is obvious. Local police enforce trespass laws regularly.

More interesting is the question of whether public venues can pressure private entities to create private bans on firearms. For example, DeVos employees, when interacting with prospective clients, might “recommend” a ban on firearms.

DeVos' attorney will likely argue the performing arts theater has 2,404 seats; that separate meeting rooms have more seats, bringing the total to over 2,500.

It seems an easy way to overcome the letter of the law. Simply count every seat in a very large, subdivided facility. Add them all together, then count it as one entity.  If you do not have enough seats in a venue, count how many temporary seats could be set up outside.

The case goes back to the original judge to determine what the seating capacity of DeVos Place is.

DeVos may tread a fine line. There may be other regulation related to seating capacity, such as zoning codes and safety codes. Claiming capacity over 2,500 may trigger other enforcement or contractual actions.

Open carry activists assert that rights unused are lost. If people are afraid to assert their rights, they do not truly have those rights.


About Dean Weingarten:Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

  • 10 thoughts on “MI: Appellate Court Issues Mixed Ruling on Right to Carry at DeVos Place

    1. ” . . . . restrictions on concealed carry have been tolerated since 1833. . . .” They forgot to add the qualifier “for racist reasons.” The Second Amendments’ language designates it AS unlimited. People who should not? No problem — we’ve already been dealing with that for hundreds of years and today is no different. The fringe of any object (or issue) is defined as the very extreme outer edge (infinite in degree as to how small that border becomes – the distance can ALWAYS be reduced by half). So, . . . . . “shall not be infringed” means, absolutely, HANDS OFF!!!! Period.

    2. The DeVos family of Grand Rapids, Mi kind of pick and choose what laws they want to follow and which ones they kick to the curb. They are the founders and owners of the Amway pyramid scheme where you become a salesperson for their cleaning products then enlist people to sell the products and if you are good enough at picking people you set back and live the life of Riley while your sales people are making money for you. It has been tried in court several times for being a pyramid flim-flam. Betsy DeVos, education secretary, is one of the clan. I can see them raising a fuss over someone carrying open, even if that is what the space was rented for.

    3. Heller is garbage. The Second Amendment is not like any other right. First of all, the Bill of Rights does not Grant rights. The purpose of the Bill of Rights is to a strict government, and in the case of the Second Amendment, the government is prohibited from any form of restrictions with the phrase, ” shall not be infringed.”

      And please keep in mind that these rights are natural, pre-existing rights and do not depend upon the Bill of Rights to exist.

      We have the right to carry any weapon any time at any place for any purpose that is lawful. And that right applies to anyone.

      1. @SamA, It is true that the Second Amendment enumerates a God given, pre-political, natural Right, and that the subject matter is not the subject matter of any other Amendment, but why do you say that the decision in Heller v. DC is “garbage”? I’m not looking to quibble. I just want to know how you got to that conclusion.

        1. It’s a decision loaded with good and bad, just like anything. It affirms an individual right to bear arms, something obvious to us but for whatever reason totally ignored as of late by liberals (who have created this “collective right” to bear arms argument. Put another way, it to them it affirms the rights to states to create “militias” (ex: arming people during times of stress, creating state “guards” like the NYS Guard or Massachusetts State Defense Force). So its good in that it debunks the “collective right” argument.
          But its bad because some of the language in it is being hijacked by liberals to argue gun control is Constitutional. Specifically the quote in the article above, citing that the 2nd Amendment can be limited is very vague, and states the 2A can be limited. As a result liberals take this to mean insane things like “assault weapons” bans are ok because it constitutes a constitutional limitation.
          You may say that these are ludicrous arguments, and they are, but there are real world, legal effects. This argument, that because Heller said limitations are ok have literally been used by a Federal Appeals court judge to justify Massachusett’s Assault Weapons ban: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/04/07/federal-judge-upholds-massachusetts-ban-ar-15-large-capacity-magazines/495781002/

          So in my opinion Heller is a double edged sword.

        2. There are ridiculous and useless restrictions recognized and allowed or ignored in the decision. And THAT should nullify it.

    4. Certainly not insane person or terrorist would attack a gathering if it had 2,505 empty chairs or occupied chairs. Mad killers who want to murder would look for places with “high value” persons such as school children, movie and rock stars, politicians with numbers under 100 potential victims because we all know that mad killers don’t want to cause a panic in a large assembly.
      After all, mad killers want a small pool of victims because big groups take up so much space it become difficult to shoot without missing.

    5. Fortunately this doesn’t affect me as I am law enforcement exempt as a retired cop. But God forbid you should attempt to carry in the casinos in Detroit. NOBODY is allowed to carry in the casinos except for on duty police and casino security. Do that and ” all bets are off”.

      1. Which, once again, brings into play the “only ones” theory. That is also why there is not a casino around that will ever see me.

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