LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A state panel on Monday banned the open carry of guns in Michigan’s Capitol, a week after an armed mob rioted in the U.S. Capitol and following an attempt last year to storm the statehouse.
Moves to ban weapons at the statehouse have been pushed since April, when protesters opposed to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's COVID-19 restrictions, some armed with long rifles and other weapons, entered the Michigan State Capitol demanding to be allowed into the legislative chambers. Some entered the Senate chambers.
The Michigan Capitol Commission, which is responsible for overseeing the Capitol, had been reluctant to issue rules for firearms, but it shifted course Monday and issued the order to ban open carrying of weapons.
Democratic legislators have pushed since April for a ban on open and concealed carry to avoid violence and continue to call for the policy to ban all firearms.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, who previously said the commission shouldn't be responsible for creating weapons policies, said last week that he would support an open carry ban after violence erupted at the U.S. Capitol by a mob of President Donald Trump's supporters.
The plan to take over the statehouse included an alleged a domestic terror plot to kidnap and kill Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, including taking hostages at the Capitol while they held a “trial” for the governor, the FBI and state law enforcement officials said.
Sen. Dayna Polehanki has pushed an effort to ban all firearms from the Capitol by introducing legislation last year that died in session. The Livonia Democrat said Monday before the panel vote that an open carry ban does not go far enough and will lead to a false sense of security for those who work at and visit the Capitol.
“Bullets are bullets,” she said no matter what kind of gun a person brings.
“There is no reason any gun belongs in the Capitol, it’s absurd, the world thinks it’s absurd," Polehanki said. "It sickens me that this is even being considered as a viable action.”
Anna Liz Nichols is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.