LANSING, Mich., Jan. 25, 2020, — State Reps. Julie Brixie (D-Meridian Township) and Tyrone Carter (D-Detroit) introduced House Bills 4023 and 4024 today to prohibit the possession of firearms in and around the Capitol. The legislation follows the Michigan State Capitol Commission’s meeting earlier this month, where Commissioners again upheld their longstanding policy allowing firearms within the statehouse, choosing only to ban the open carry of firearms while neglecting to prohibit those that are hidden or concealed.
“The Capitol Commission has repeatedly failed to take action to protect the elected officials and staff who work in the Capitol, as well as the thousands of visitors and school groups that come to learn about our state’s history,” said Brixie. “Prohibiting open-carry may prevent militia members from standing over lawmakers in the galleries with their guns drawn, but it doesn’t address the very real threat of violence that exists as long as guns are still allowed. Until we expressly prohibit all firearms at the Capitol and the legislative office buildings, we continue to allow militia members to dictate whether or not the Legislature can safely get to work for the people of Michigan at a time when they need our support the most.”
Similar bills were introduced by House and Senate Democrats last year following several armed protests at the Capitol, including the infamous incident that thrust Michigan into the national spotlight when armed protestors stormed the building and got as far as the House chamber doors before being stopped. Since that time, the Legislature has abruptly canceled session or locked the Capitol and surrounding office buildings due to credible threats of explosives and armed violence — preventing critical work from taking place to meet the immediate needs of Michigan families and small businesses in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Following the assault on the U.S. Capitol earlier this month, the need to take swift action has taken on renewed urgency as the FBI warned of credible threats of violence being planned on all 50 state Capitols last week.
“I will always respect and fight to uphold the right to protest; but once firearms are being used as a threat or a means of intimidation, it’s no longer a protest — it’s a recipe for disaster,” said Carter. “Our Capitol served as the dress rehearsal for what we saw unfold in the U.S. Capitol; and the commission’s continued unwillingness to ban all guns is not only shocking, but an abdication of their duty. The children and families who come to tour the Capitol, and the members and employees who work there every day, have a right to do so without threat or intimidation. The time for half measures is over, we must ensure everyone’s safety immediately.”
The U.S. Capitol and 32 states prohibit firearms from their state capitols altogether: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming.
For the 18 states that allow at least some firearms to enter the capitol building, many have rules prohibiting firearms in certain areas, such as legislative galleries and chambers.
Prior to the Capitol Commission’s policy on open carry, Michigan was one of only three states that lacked gun-related security measures of any kind.
In addition to banning firearms from Michigan’s Capitol building, this legislation would ban firearms from the grounds surrounding the Capitol, as well as the House and Senate office buildings.