Democratic lawmakers and gun control advocates have a new argument in their months-old quest to ban firearms from the Michigan State Capitol building in Lansing: it creates a workplace hazard.
Ever since dozens armed protesters turned out at the capitol during protests over Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s lockdown orders back in the spring, those wanting to make the Capitol complex gun-free have been relying on the state’s Capitol Commission to issue a ban. Commissioners, however, first argued that they didn’t have the authority to implement such a ban, and even after their staff attorney agreed with the state’s AG that the commission could institute a ban on lawfully possessed guns in the building, the commission has punted on the issue.
Now House Minority Leader Christine Greig is urging House Speaker Lee Chatfield to direct the commission to put the gun ban in place, claiming that the presence of firearms in the capitol creates a hazardous work environment.
Greig says she plans to file a complaint with the state’s occupational health agency if Chatfield fails to act.
“It’s very threatening when you walk around your workplace and see people with assault rifles,” Greig said in an interview. “Any other workplace would be addressing this, and it would be investigated and dealt with. But we are not afforded that as members of the House. It needs to change.”
First of all, there are plenty of work places that haven’t declared themselves to be gun-free zones, but Greig also fails to acknowledge that the Capitol isn’t just a place of work for legislators, but a gathering space for citizens to lobby lawmakers, protest their decisions, and rally in support of legislation.
Greig seems to understand that, because she called it “unfair” that signs are not permitted in the Capitol building while lawfully possessed firearms are okay. Personally, I think ending the ban on signs is a far better idea than trying to make the Capitol a gun-free zone.
Gideon D’Assandro, a spokesman for Chatfield, called the letter from Greig a “partisan press stunt.”
“We all know MIOSHA can’t trump the constitution,” D’Assandro said in a statement, referring to the Michigan workplace safety agency. “The House is doing important work this week to keep Michigan safe and help improve the state’s response to the pandemic. The Legislature won’t be distracted from that.”Michigan’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration did not respond to a request for comment about whether it had received complaints about workplace safety issues at the Capitol.