Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Michigan weighs banning guns inside state Capitol Building after protests

Posted By on Tue, May 5, 2020 at 1:29 PM

  • Brian Charles Watson, Wikimedia Creative Commons
  • Michigan State Capitol.

The days of carrying guns into the Michigan Capitol may be numbered after armed protesters stormed the building to rally against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home order.

The Michigan State Capitol Commission is exploring whether it has the authority to ban guns inside the Lansing building. At least one gun-owning Republican on the six-member commission said he supports a ban.

“I think it's safe to say that everybody is very disturbed, including me, by what we saw last week,” John Truscott, vice chairman of the commission, said on the “Morning Wake-up” radio show on WILS-AM on Tuesday. “We do not like seeing guns brought into the building – loaded guns – and I’m a Second Amendment advocate and a gun owner, and I did not like what I saw.”

Truscott said the commission has sought a legal opinion to determine if it has the authority to ban guns inside the building. The commission, which is responsible for managing and maintaining the building and its grounds, meets Monday and will discuss the options, Truscott said.

“We don’t know what the law is going to show us in terms of our ability to stop this or temporarily ban it or whatever,” Truscott said, adding that lawmakers asked the commission to explore its legal authority over guns.

The protest drew strong criticism from across the country as images of the rally circulated on TV and social media, showing some demonstrators carrying long guns, Confederate flags, and nooses.

Some lawmakers expressed fear as shouting gunmen entered the public gallery.

“Directly above me, men with rifles yelling at us," Sen. Dayna Polehanki, D-Livonia, posted on Twitter. "Some of my colleagues who own bullet-proof vests are wearing them. I have never appreciated our Sergeants-at-Arms more than today."

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey called the armed protesters "jackasses" in a statement condemning them.

"Several of the so-called protesters, used intimidation and the threat of physical harm to stir up fear and feed rancor," Shirkey said. "I condemn their behavior and denounce their tactics. Their actions hurt their cause and steal from the rights of others by creating an environment where responsible citizens do not feel safe enough to express themselves."

A day after the protest, President Donald Trump complimented the protesters.

"These are very good people, but they are angry," Trump tweeted. "They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal."

Truscott said the most effective way to ban guns from the Capitol is through the Legislature.

“One way to easily deal with this is to pass a law,” Truscott said. “That would hold the weight, and then we could enforce it. Whether we have the ability outside of current statutes, that’s what we’re trying to determine now.”

But with Republicans holding a majority in both chambers, a proposed ban may not have enough votes.

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