Advisor: Commission Doesn't Have Authority To Ban Guns In Michigan Capital Building

Michigan Capitol Building
Photo credit Getty
By WWJ Newsradio 950

(WWJ)  After looking into it, the Michigan State Capitol Commission has determined that it does not have the authority to ban guns inside the state Capitol Building. 

Vice chair John Truscott told WWJ Newsradio 950's Zach Clark that the Commission, which manages the Capitol building in Lansing, had hoped to make the move as soon as next week.

However: "In terms of the building itself — and I've just received some information — the Capitol Commission does not have jurisdiction to go above and beyond what is state law," Truscott said, after speaking with an advisor on Tuesday. 

Truscott, a Republican, said the six-member Commission lacks the authority to change the rule under a 1931 state law allowing the carrying of concealed weapons with a license inside the building.

"Our legal council has been researching the law and I am told one of the things she will be briefing us on next week is the limitations that we have," he said. "We do not have the authority, at least it appears at this point, to go beyond law. Since open carry is allowed in Michigan, we can't supersede that." 

A ban on weapons in the Capitol, Truscott said, would have to come from either the Legislature or by voter initiative. "So, we are going to get a briefing on Monday at our meeting, but it appears, at least at this point, that we don't have jurisdiction to limit guns brought into the building."

Why would they want a ban?  

Truscott said, although he's an advocate of the Second Amendment, he was "very disturbed" by what he saw during a recent protest.

"You know, we've had for years a number of rallies on the Capitol lawn where guns are brought in, people advocating for the Second Amendment, but this took things a step further," he told Clark.

"Before, the groups have been very respectful; very good to deal with. This group — a very small group of individuals that came in the building — really took a threatening stance...and it was a different tone that was taken than has ever been taken before. It really gave people some pause."

A couple of hundred people gathered last Thursday in Lansing to protest what they call "excessive quarantine" amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The protesters called for an end to  "the shutdown" of Michigan under the governor's orders, demanding that businesses reopen immediately. 

A State Senator from metro Detroit tweeted a photo after demonstrators carrying long guns entered the Senate public gallery, and shouted at lawmakers on the chamber floor. "Directly above me, men with rifles yelling at us. Some of my colleagues who own bullet proof vests are wearing them," Sen. Dayna Polehanki of Livonia wrote. 

Tensions ran high at times as some of the protestors, who were blocked from entering the House chamber by Michigan State Police troopers, chanted: "Let us in, let us in!" 

While public reaction to rally has been mixed, President Donald Trump tweeted his support, calling the protesters "very good people," and advising Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to listen to them.

Created in 2013, the Michigan State Capitol Commission manages the Michigan State Capitol Historic Site, maintains and restores the State Capitol Building, and maintains and improves the grounds of the site.