Michigan bans open carry of guns in Capitol building

open-carry of guns in Michigan Capitol
Photo credit Getty Images - FILE

(WWJ) The Michigan Capitol Commission has voted unanimously to ban the open carry of firearms in the State Capitol building.

The 6-0 vote in Lansing came days after a riot and insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and months following last year's armed protest in the State Capitol.

While lawmakers and other officials in Michigan applauded the move, some say it's not enough as the FBI warns of armed protests planned at capitols across the U.S.

In a statement, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel called Monday's vote "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."

Nessel said, in a statement: "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.”

Democratic Michigan Sen. Dayna Polehanki, who was on the floor last April when armed protestors intimidated lawmakers in the Senate gallery, plans to introduce legislation this week that would ban all weapons -- concealed and open -- in the Capitol building.

Polehanki said, of Monday's vote:

"It's not a compromise; it's not a solution. Most mass shootings are carried out with handguns. And so I'm not sure where the commission's collective head is at on this, but I sure as heck hope that this isn't where it ends."

Polehanki said the ban on open-carry only creates an "illusion" and a "false sense of security" that people in the Capitol are safe. "People are not safe inside our Capitol building until all guns are banned."

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, however, called the vote "a good start," saying that more action is needed.

“No lawmaker, reporter, staff member, or anyone who works in the Michigan Capitol should fear for their safety at work," Whitmer said. "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 governor added. "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.”