LANSING, Mich. — The moment the Capitol Commission voted unanimously to ban open carry of firearms in the Capitol building, Rep. Sarah Anthony remained composed in her seat. When the meeting adjourned after only 10 minutes, a few people came up to her to see how she was doing.
She told FOX 17 she felt some sense of relief.
Open carry guns are now banned in the Capitol in #Lansing. @SarahAnthony517 says she’s feeling “some sense of relief.” She’s been trying to get this done since May 1, the day after extremists stormed the building while they were inside.— Lauren Edwards (@LaurenEdwardsTV) January 11, 2021
Hear more from her on @FOX17 at 4/5/6p pic.twitter.com/0gAlhIAzvN
“It is mixed emotions,” Rep. Anthony said. “I have been fighting to ensure that this is a safe workplace since the April 30 protest, in which the gunmen stormed into this very Capitol building.”
On that day last year, several armed protesters rushed into the Capitol building while she and others were working inside. A few of the protesters made their way to a balcony and paced back and forth while carrying long guns. Rep. Anthony and others immediately feared for their safety. The next day, she reached out to the Capitol Commission about officially banning guns from the building.
“We should not be allowing deadly weapons in a Capitol building, in which not only lawmakers and our staff work here every day but also schoolchildren who come into this building and learn about our state's history,” Rep. Anthony said. “No one deserves an unsafe work environment. Until we completely ban firearms in this building it’s still an unsafe work environment.”
Rep. Anthony said she believed last week’s riots at the Capitol building in Washington D.C. influenced Monday’s vote. On January 6, as members of Congress were working to certify president-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win, thousands of people who support President Donald Trump and believe the election was stolen gathered on the mall. Then dozens of them violently stormed into the Capitol’s rotunda and elsewhere in the building causing Congress to stop proceedings and evacuate to an undisclosed location.
“It was clearly a factor,” said Capitol Commission Vice Chair John Truscott. “We have the same concerns as everybody else. This was going to be on the agenda on [Jan.] 25th anyway so we just moved it up.”
Several people have died due to the riots.
Rep. Anthony said she will continue to work to make the Capitol completely gun free. However Monday’s vote was "long overdue."
“It shouldn’t take bloodshed to take one representative, one senator’s cries seriously. It’s frustrating to continue to be dismissed in this space,” Rep Anthony said. “I don’t want the presence of violence to finally trigger action in this moment. So, whatever it takes to make it happen, I’m going to celebrate courageous actions, whether that’s today or tomorrow.”
The ban went into effect immediately.