Board of Education Trustee Andy Thomas Responds to Student Safety

I am in complete agreement with what President Mexicotte has said, and would like to add a few more points.

First, the “open carry” law as it exists in Michigan and as it applies to our schools places our principals and teachers in a completely untenable position. The presence in a school of an individual with a gun is a potential threat to the safety of children. Principals and teachers will have to act very quickly to assess the threat. The stakes involved in making the wrong assessment are incalculable, adding even more stress to an already stressful profession. Open carry needlessly turns principals and teachers into security guards instead of educators.

Second, there is no way to tell if someone is a “good guy with a gun” or a “bad guy with a gun”. Under Michigan law, virtually anyone can obtain a CPL if they are willing to jump through a couple of hoops. An “open carry” individual may indeed be a “good guy”. But he may be a “good guy” who is having a very bad day. Or a “good guy” with a very short fuse. Or a “good guy” who did not take his medications this morning. Or a “good guy” who has very bad judgment. Or is a “good guy” who perceives individuals of a different race or ethnicity to be threatening. Our staff deal with individuals who fit these descriptions every day. If they are unarmed, they can be managed with little or no risk to students. If they are armed, things can turn bad in a hurry.

Third, one of our finest teachers, Pioneer choir director Steve Lorenz, is receiving hate mail from open carry advocates, some of it anonymous. I would like to share some of these letters but they are too vile to read in an open meeting. Mr. Lorenz is a key member of an award-winning music department that is the jewel in the crown of the Ann Arbor Public Schools. We are proud of our music program. We are proud of our choirs, our bands, and our orchestras, which are second to none. And we are proud of Mr. Lorenz. Mr. Lorenz has done nothing wrong. He cares deeply about his students, and acted to protect them from danger. I take great offense at the way an outstanding teacher is being pilloried for doing his job., and at the way a choral concert – which should have been a joyous, uplifting event for students, families and the general community — was politicized to advance the agenda of open carry.

Andy Thomas


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  1. Thank you Andy. Your second paragraph perfectly outlines the grave concerns that so many of us hold.

  2. The pro-guns-in-school activists are a small, yet well organized vocal minority. They do not represent the overall views of the general population, especially here in Ann Arbor. I am inspired by the reasonable and courageous statements of the board members, who took the time to personally respond to an email our family sent expressing our concerns. I ecourage the average, reasonable citizen to become involved in an organization promoting sensible gun laws. We need to make our voices heard as well. Common sense will prevail.

  3. The vast majority of parents of Ann Arbor Public School students support the sentiment that there should never be any guns in the Ann Arbor Public Schools, except in emergency situations where first responders are attempting to ensure the safety of our children. A very loud, ideologically motivated minority oppose practical measures to keep our children safe. Please do not be intimidated by them; please do not give in to them.

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