The University of Michigan, and universities in general, qualify as “sensitive places” and therefore Second Amendment protections do not extend to them, said the Michigan Court of Appeals in Wade v. University of Michigan, No. 330555.
In 2001, the University of Michigan implemented an ordinance prohibiting firearms on any University property. Wade, the plaintiff, filed suit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief claiming that the ordinance violated his Second Amendment rights. The relevant question was whether the ordinance regulated conduct that was historically understood to be protected by the Second Amendment in 1868, the time of the Fourteen Amendment’s ratification. The Court relied on District of Columbia v. Heller,
which held that schools in 1868 were considered “sensitive places” and thus categorically unprotected. The Court then turned to Webster’s 1828 Dictionary to find that a University in fact constituted a school. The Court found that because a University is a school and a school is a “sensitive place,” Second Amendment protections do not extend, thus the University of Michigan’s firearms ordinance was lawful, affirming the lower court’s ruling. Judge Sawyer dissented
, arguing that the state legislature had pervasively regulated the area of firearm possession, meaning that the state had preempted the regulation of all other unit of government, and that preemption extends to the state universities.