Michigan Capitol Commission votes to ban openly carried firearms in State Capitol

Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 1:47 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - The public no longer will be allowed to openly carry firearms in the Michigan Capitol.

The Michigan Capitol Commission voted during an emergency hearing on Monday to approve a ban openly carrying guns at the State Capitol in Lansing in the wake of riots at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. But Republicans will attempt to overturn the open carry ban, which still allows concealed weapons in the State Capitol.

Democrat lawmakers requested Monday’s emergency hearing to address safety in the Capitol building before the Michigan Legislature convenes a new term on Wednesday.

Republican House Speaker Jason Wentworth believes the Capitol Commission lacks the authority to enact an open carry ban without approval from the Legislature, but he won’t contest police enforcement of the measure for now.

“The Speaker will be looking at options for handling that moving forward,” Wentworth said in a statement. “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.”

Attorney General Dana Nessel said the commission has the authority to ban openly carried guns and she was glad they approved it Monday. But she wants to see more security protections in place at the Capitol building in Lansing, including a ban on concealed weapons, as well.

“Firearms -- whether explicitly visible or concealed by clothing -- possess the same capability to inflict injury and harm on others and only banning open carry does little to meaningfully improve the safety and security of our Capitol,” Nessel said. “I urge the Commission or our Legislature to take the proper action and pass the necessary reforms that truly take into account the safety of those visiting and working in our Capitol. Today’s actions are simply not enough to do that.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also applauded the commission’s vote on Monday and called on lawmakers or the commission to ban firearms entirely from the Capitol complex.

The commission considered banning openly carried guns in the Michigan Capitol last May, weeks after a tense protest of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order with several armed people in the gallery while lawmakers were in session.

However, commissioners declined to enact an open carry ban at that time and instead left the issue for lawmakers to decide. Democrats introduced bills to ban guns in the Capitol last year, but they never received approval and died when the legislative term ended on Dec. 31.

The issue returned to the Capitol Commission’s agenda this week after the riots in Washington, which included armed rioters storming the U.S. Capitol while Congress was in session.

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