GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Calls are growing for a ban on guns inside the Michigan State Capitol after armed protesters entered the building last week.
In the days since the protest against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the Michigan Capitol Commission started exploring ways to ban weapons from the building only to learn it doesn’t have the authority to make that change.
“While we govern the building, the grounds, the infrastructure and the budget for the building, we don’t have jurisdiction to allow or ban weapons in the building,” John Truscott, vice chair of the commission, said. “That’s state law.”
Truscott said a change of state law on where guns are and are not allowed would have to come from the Legislature.
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Truscott, a Republican and Second Amendment advocate, said he’s in favor of banning guns from the building, especially after seeing what happened last week.
“I think that the aggressive nature of the folks that were there — and there were (only) a small handful of them — but it was unnecessary and it did bother a lot of people who work around that building and I tend to agree with them,” Truscott said.
Democratic lawmakers, like state Sen. Sylvia Santana, D-Detroit, are ready to take action when it comes to making this change. The day after the protest, Santana told News 8 she feared for her life as she sat in the Senate chamber wearing a bulletproof vest as armed protesters watched from the gallery above.
“We need to modernize our Capitol grounds policies related to guns in our state Capitol,” she wrote in a Tuesday statement to News 8. “The other 48 states have updated policies including the United States Capitol. This is not about limiting 2nd Amendment rights. It is about public safety and the lethal combination of angry people carrying weapons into a political environment.”
News 8 reached out to Republican leadership in Lansing, but didn’t hear back Tuesday evening. Several West Michigan Republican lawmakers declined comment.
State Rep. Tommy Bran, R-Wyoming, said while he didn’t have an official position, he wondered how a potential ban would apply to legislators, adding that he wouldn’t want his colleagues to be prohibited from carrying a gun while on the floor.
Truscott said the commission will get a full briefing from its legal team on Monday, detailing the exact steps required to implement a ban. From there, Truscott said the commission will inform lawmakers what steps would be required of them to ban weapons from the building.