The Michigan State Capitol Commission on Monday voted unanimously to prohibit the open carry of firearms in the state Capitol building following last week’s violent insurrection in Washington, D.C.
The 6-0 vote marks a significant reversal for the commission, which deadlocked on a proposal to ban open carry in September.
“We think this is the best and most honest policy for us to implement right now,” Commissioner William Kandler said before the vote.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer applauded the ban.
“No lawmaker, reporter, staff member, or anyone who works in the Michigan Capitol should fear for their safety at work," Whitmer said in a statement. "But in the past year, we have seen a rapid rise in violent rhetoric and threats to public safety that require our immediate action. 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 commission, however, stopped short of banning concealed guns.
“We have no authority to implement the infrastructure to go beyond” an open carry ban, Kandler said. “We have don’t have the budget for it, and we don’t have the authority.”
Whitmer appeared to disagree, saying she hopes the commission bans concealed weapons in the future.
“The Capitol Commission’s action to ban open carry guns at the Capitol is a good start, but more action is needed," Whitmer said. "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. 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.”
Republican commissioners who initially opposed the ban didn’t explain why they changed their minds, but they said in September they were open to revisiting the issue at a later time.
Commissioner John Truscott, a gun-owning Republican, said the ban is “relevant for the times.”
Calls to ban guns from the Capitol increased on April 30, when menacing protesters with rifles entered the building, frightening lawmakers and state employees.
Directly above me, men with rifles yelling at us. Some of my colleagues who own bullet proof vests are wearing them. I have never appreciated our Sergeants-at-Arms more than today. #mileg pic.twitter.com/voOZpPYWOs— Senator Dayna Polehanki (@SenPolehanki) April 30, 2020
The ban on open carry is the latest fallout since a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol building last week, leading to the deaths of five people, including a Capitol police officer.
The Michigan Capitol building was temporarily shut down last week following a bomb threat.
A poll released in October showed that 76% of Michigan voters said the state Capitol should ban guns.
On Monday, the U.S. House introduced an article of impeachment against President Donald Trump for inciting a riot.
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