LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan State Capitol Commission unanimously voted Monday afternoon to ban open carry guns at the Capitol building effective immediately.
The Michigan State Capitol Commission, which is responsible for overseeing the Capitol and ultimately for making a decision on the future of firearms, pushed back on accepting the responsibility last year. However, on Monday, during a meeting in Lansing, the panel voted unanimously to ban all open carry guns inside the Capitol building.
You can still carry a concealed weapon with proper licenses, and the new ban only bans weapons from inside the building, not the grounds of the Capitol.
Concerns over security at Michigan’s Capitol were reignited after the U.S. Capitol came under attack by a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters last week.
State Representative Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) has been advocating for a ban on firearms since protests in Lansing in April of last year. She said tensions are high, the work done inside the building is emotional, and lawmakers should be focusing on their job and not worried about personal safety.
"We have incoming members that are worried about their personal safety," said Anthony, "wondering if they should get a bulletproof vest, wondering how their seat assignments will play out, and what their exit strategy is in the event that something happened on the House floor. I think people are definitely concerned."
She said now is time for "bold action," and called for a ban on all weapons inside the Capitol, not just open carry.
"I'm the representative for Lansing," said Anthony. "This is a workplace for many of my constituents. So, to look them in the eye and tell them that guns will still be allowed and present in their workplace, it's just not enough."
In response to the vote to ban open carry Monday, Republican Speaker of the House-elect Jason Wentworth issued this statement:
“The Speaker is grateful for the work of the Capitol Commission, but it does not have the authority to set policy in the Capitol. The Speaker will be looking at options for handling that moving forward. In the meantime, the Michigan State Police will be enforcing the new ruling. In order to ensure there is no confusion in the Capitol, Speaker Wentworth asks everyone to respect the Michigan State Police and the rules they enforce.”
Governor Gretchen Whitmer released the following statement after the vote.
"No lawmaker, reporter, staff member, or anyone who works in the Michigan Capitol should fear for their safety at work. But in the past year, we have seen a rapid rise in violent rhetoric and threats to public safety that require our immediate action," her statement read. "In April of 2020, armed protestors stormed the Michigan Capitol and stood in the gallery, long guns in hand, looking to intimidate legislators doing their job to serve the people of Michigan. And last week, we saw an armed insurgency occur in our nation’s capitol. This cannot stand. We must take immediate action to protect everyone who steps foot in our state Capitol.
"The Capitol Commission’s action to ban open carry guns at the Capitol is a good start, but more action is needed. On a normal day, hundreds of people walk through the Capitol, including groups of fourth graders, teachers, and parents on school field trips to learn about state government," Whitmer continued. "That’s why we must take action to ban all weapons at the Capitol to keep Michiganders safe. I am hopeful that the Capitol Commission will recognize the need for further action, and I stand ready to assist in implementing this policy to keep Michiganders safe."
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