Michigan House Democrats Introduce Bills Prohibiting Firearms in the State Capitol Building

Wednesday, May 13, 2020
  • Following the now infamous and unruly protests held recently at the State Capitol building, Michigan House Democrats urged the Michigan State Capitol Commission to immediately change its policy and prohibit firearms within the Capitol building.

 

  • The Capitol Commission, controlled by Republicans, predictably failed to act after receiving a letter from Republican Leadership requesting delay, while armed protests continue to be planned this week at the Capitol and numerous threats of violence are being made toward statewide elected officials.

 

  • Following inaction from the Capitol Commission, jeopardizing the safety of members, staff and visitors in the Capitol, House Democrats move to take legislative action.

LANSING, Mich., May 13, 2020, — Michigan House Democrats introduced a package this week to ban firearms from the Michigan State Capitol Building. House Bills 5784 and 5783, introduced by state Reps. Julie Brixie (D-Meridian Township) and Tyrone Carter (D-Detroit), respectively, would prohibit both open and concealed-carry in the Capitol. The legislation follows the Michigan State Capitol Commission’s meeting on Monday, where Commissioners postponed making a decision to reverse their longstanding policy allowing firearms within the statehouse.

“The Commission had an opportunity to protect visitors, employees, legislators and the media who work here,” said Brixie. “They failed to act on Monday and time is of the essence as more armed protests are being planned, so we are looking to do our part in providing a safe environment for visitors and employees. There is no good reason for anyone to carry a gun into the Capitol. I’m thankful school groups weren’t here during those events, but without a change in state law or building policy, it’s highly unlikely this will be the case in the future.”

The Commission has argued their ban on protest signs was necessary to protect the building’s historic interior from scuffs or scrapes, as well as limiting the possibility of incidentally hitting other visitors. However, the Commission has expressed no such concerns over the irreparable harm that can be caused by firearms, deeming it safer to err on the side of putting lives at risk than to act too ‘hastily.’ Instead, the Commission excused their inaction by claiming that changes to the firearm policy must be made by the Legislature, despite Attorney General Dana Nessel’s recent opinion and backed up by a previous determination by former Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette on the matter.

“What I witnessed the other day at the Capitol was not about protest — I have seen protests. I’ve watched as our own government released dogs on individuals simply carrying signs or otherwise peacefully gathering,” said Carter. “That group the other day was not there to protest, they were there to create as hostile an environment as they could and instill fear. And to see the fear on my colleague’s faces as an angry, well-armed mob screamed from outside those chamber doors — it infuriated me. I respect the right to protest, but this has gone too far, and we need to act now. The children and families who come to tour the Capitol, and the employees who work there every day, have the right to do so without fear of intimidation.”

Numerous states restrict or prohibit firearms in state capitols and public buildings, including Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Louisiana, Nevada, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Firearms are also prohibited in the U.S. Capitol and in many Michigan state government buildings. Michigan’s Capitol receives more than 110,000 visitors each year.