LANSING, Mich. — UPDATE
In a unanimous vote, the Capitol Commission banned open-carry firearms inside of the Capitol at an emergency meeting on Monday
The ban is effective immediately.
Commissioner William Kandler emphasized in the meeting that enforcement of the ban will not be handled by the commission.
“We discovered that the extreme limit on our real authority to actually implement something was to implement a ban on open-carry. We have no authority to implement the infrastructure to go beyond that at this point,” Kandler said.
Commissioner Joan Bauer said the ban is a first step to addressing the issue of guns in the state Capitol. The commission is still receiving public comment on the issue and will discuss any further security concerns at their regularly scheduled meeting Monday, Jan. 25th.
Some Michigan lawmakers are disappointed with the decision, saying the commission isn’t doing enough to keep legislators safe.
In a statement, state Attorney General Dana Nessel said whether or not a weapon is concealed doesn’t change its ability to cause harm.
“Only banning open carry does little to meaningfully improve the safety and security of our Capitol,” Nessel said.
Open-carry firearms are still permitted outside of the building on the Capitol grounds.
State Sen. Dayna Polehanki, D - Livonia, took to Twitter with a video message expressing her disappointment with the ban.
“I’m dismayed and angry. Disgusted. That this half measure was taken. This half measure will avail us nothing and it could get somebody killed,” Polehanki told her followers.
The state legislature is set to return to session at the Capitol on Wednesday.
Shockwaves of Wednesday’s assault on the U.S. Capitol building are still being felt throughout the country. Here, in Lansing, officials are continuing the conversation surrounding security concerns in our own Capitol building.
The Capitol Commission has scheduled an emergency meeting today, just two days before the return of the legislative session.
The chief issue: whether or not to ban the open carry of firearms in the Capitol building.
The six-member body voted down a motion to enact an immediate ban on firearms in the building back in September and split 3-3 on a motion to ban open carry, meaning the measure did not pass. Commissioner John Truscott said at the time he felt enacting such a ban would be an overreach of the commission’s authority
Democrats in the legislature have been calling for a ban on guns in the building since April, when far-right protesters armed with rifles entered the Capitol, but the ban has received little support from their Republican colleagues.
The alarming events in our nation’s capital have some legislators changing their tune. Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, a Republican, endorsed the ban for the first time on Thursday..
Democratic state Rep. Sarah Anthony of Lansing delivered emotional testimony in the September commission meeting where she spoke of living in fear of gun violence. On Friday, Anthony said she and other Democratic representatives have been pushing for a ban on firearms in the building and some Democrats say an open carry ban on its own, won’t be enough.
On Monday, Sen. Dayna Polehanki of Livonia tweeted her concerns for the safety of her colleagues and visitors to the Capitol.
This is NOT a “step in the right direction”; in fact, it creates the *illusion* that people will be safe inside our Capitol. We are not safe until a total gun ban is enacted. As stewards of our capitol, the commission will abdicate its responsibility today to keep people safe. https://t.co/mAdy0WFnme— Senator Dayna Polehanki (@SenPolehanki) January 11, 2021
SEE MORE: Nessel: Our state Capitol is not safe
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said the ban is "the right thing to do."
“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. 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. 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.”
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said the ban is "not enough" to truly protect everyone at the state Capitol.
“Though I appreciate the Commission’s decision today to prohibit the open carry of firearms, it’s only a single step down the long path of reforms that are necessary to make our legislators, state employees and visitors safe in our state Capitol. 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. 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.”
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