AAUP Files Brief Supporting Firearms Prohibition at University of Michigan

Yesterday, the AAUP joined gun violence prevention organizations Brady and Team Enough in filing an amicus brief in support of the University of Michigan’s ordinance prohibiting the possession of firearms and other dangerous weapons on university property. The brief to the Michigan Court of Appeals argues that the university’s prohibition does not violate the Second Amendment and instead protects the free speech rights of students and faculty, safeguards academic freedom, promotes the free exchange of ideas on campus, and furthers the university’s core educational goals.

In 2014, plaintiff Joshua Wade applied for waivers of the prohibition on carrying a firearm on university property, which were subsequently denied. Wade then filed a lawsuit alleging that the ordinance violates the Second Amendment. The case has been moving through the courts since then and most recently was sent by the Michigan Supreme Court back to the court of appeals.

Citing decades of empirical research, the amicus brief filed by the AAUP, Brady, and Team Enough demonstrates that allowing guns on campus will create a charged and aggressive atmosphere that will impede vigorous debate and intellectual risk-taking and chill discussions of controversial subject matter. Additionally, the brief asserts that the presence of guns on campus will deter students from exercising their First Amendment right to engage in activism and peaceful protest on campus.

The brief also argues that the university’s prohibition “serves the critical interest of academic freedom by protecting faculty speech and furthering the University’s core educational goals.” The freedom to teach includes “the right of the faculty to select the materials, determine the approach to the subject, make the assignments, and assess student academic performance.” The brief further notes that there is “widespread concern among university faculty that allowing guns on campus would threaten this freedom and force them to alter their curriculum and important classroom discussions.” 

The brief cites a 2015 joint statement by the AAUP, the American Federation of Teachers, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges that opposed campus carry laws and argued that “students and faculty members will not feel comfortable discussing controversial subjects if they think there might be a gun in the room.”

The full brief is available here

Publication Date: 
Friday, March 10, 2023