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 a plot 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 Capitol demanding to be allowed onto the floor of a legislative chamber that was closed to the public.
The Michigan State 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 the open carrying of weapons.
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.
Some of the anti-government extremists accused in a plot to kidnap Whitmer had carried guns at lockdown protests at the Capitol last spring. Prosecutors say the accused ringleader initially talked of recruiting 200 men to storm the building, take hostages and "execute tyrants." A secondary plan involved locking exits and setting the statehouse on fire, according to court documents.
Democratic legislators want the policy to ban all firearms, not just open carry.
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."
By ANNA LIZ NICHOLS Associated Press/Report for America
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.
Associated Press writer David Eggert contributed to this report.
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