State Watch

Michigan bans open carry of guns inside state Capitol

The Michigan Capitol Commission on Monday voted unanimously to ban open-carry guns inside the state Capitol following last week's deadly riot in Washington, D.C., according to multiple reports.

The Detroit Free Press reported that the commission has been pressured for years to enact the ban, but has often argued it wasn't authorized to do so. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) argued in a recent opinion, however, that it does have the legal authority.

Before Monday's decision, Michigan was one of only three states that had no firearm regulations or security measures in place for its state Capitol, according to the Free Press.

Some Democratic state lawmakers said the new ban does not go far enough, arguing that all firearms should be banned, both concealed and open-carry.

The newspaper reported that state Reps. Donna Lasinski, Sarah Anthony and Brenda Carter released a joint statement saying the safety of those inside the Capitol building was still at risk.

"In addition to lawmakers doing the work of the people, our Capitol is open to school kids, tour groups and others seeking to learn more about the history of our amazing state. Without a significant change in policy, lives will continue to be put at risk by domestic terrorists carrying weapons," the Democratic legislators said.

John Truscott, vice chairman of the commission that voted for the ban, said the government body did not have the funds to take tougher actions.

"We don't have the budget, the personnel, the infrastructure to implement at this point," Truscott said after the meeting, according to the Free Press. "It's pretty easy to see if someone is carrying visibly."

The move in Lansing comes less than a week after a mob of Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol building, with rioters smashing windows and doors and vandalizing lawmakers' offices. Five people died because of the riot.

Michigan is no stranger to armed threats inside its Capitol. In May, hundreds of protesters, some of whom were armed, marched into the Capitol to protest a stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D).

After the protest, Whitmer publicly backed a ban on guns inside the Capitol.

A few months later, the FBI announced it had thwarted an attempt by armed militia members to kidnap Whitmer. Thirteen people were ultimately charged in connection with the plot.

Whitmer later said President Trump's rhetoric had become a "rallying cry" for similar extremist groups.

"Hate groups heard the president's words not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry, as a call to action. When our leaders speak, their words matter. They carry weight. When our leaders meet with, encourage or fraternize with domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions and they are complicit," Whitmer said.

Trump regularly criticized Whitmer for the state's coronavirus restrictions.

After Monday's decision by the state commission to ban open-carry firearms, Whitmer issued a statement saying: "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."

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