We knew it was going to happen, and the first push to restrict the Second Amendment in the wake of the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday is now underway. Democrats in Michigan are pointing to the violence in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday as justification to ban the lawful possession of firearms from the state capitol building in Lansing.
This isn’t the first time that Democratic lawmakers have called for a ban. In fact, after armed protesters showed up at the state capitol building in Lansing during anti-lockdown protests last spring, several Democrats called on the Republican-controlled legislature to ban the carrying of firearms inside the Capitol and legislative office buildings. Unlike what we saw on Wednesday, the armed protesters in Lansing weren’t violent, and in fact none of the armed were arrested or cited for any reason. Still, many Democrats insisted that they felt threatened by the sight of legally armed gun owners wandering the halls and sitting in the legislative galleries.
The state’s Attorney General opined that the Capitol Building Commission could ban firearms if it wanted to, but the commission itself disagreed, and the legal dispute lasted throughout much of the year. Eventually the Capitol Commission agreed it did have the power to act, but rejected two proposals that would banned or limited gun possession inside the building, but agreed to further discussions with the Republican House Speaker to try to find “common ground.”
After Wednesday’s violence, however, Democrats are once again calling for the Capitol to become a gun-free zone.
Rep. Padma Kuppa (D- Troy, Clawson), Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-23 Brownstown), and Rep. Sarah Anthony (D- Lansing) all remember the day armed protestors stormed the statehouse and entered their chambers while they worked.
“Reflecting on yesterday, I especially think of what my colleagues and I endured in the state legislature on April 30, in the great state of Michigan, in Lansing, in our own beautiful Capitol, we had a very similar, similar event,” said Kuppa.
Since then, they say violence and intimidation have been on the rise.
“This is not something that came out of nowhere. We saw the preview in the Michigan State House. We are not surprised. This has been a coordinated attack. For years, and particularly the last, you know, eight to nine months. They very easily stormed into the Capitol with guns on their shoulders,” said Camilleri.
Nobody “stormed” into the Capitol in Lansing with guns on their shoulders. They walked in, as they’re legally allowed to do. And I’m not sure if the lawmakers are aware of this, but the U.S. Capitol is a gun-free zone, unless you’re a member of Congress or the Capitol police, and that didn’t stop a freaking riot from breaking out. It may have allowed at least one arrest to happen, but given the fact that police were overwhelmed, I’m pretty sure that there was no way to fully enforce the prohibition on guns inside the Capitol for at least a few hours on Wednesday afternoon.
Still, Michigan Democrats are trying to compare Wednesday’s violence in D.C. and last year’s non-violent protests in Lansing, and I suspect there are going to be a lot of closed-door meetings on the issue in the coming days.
News 10 reached out to the Capitol Commission. They said they couldn’t make time for an interview on Thursday. However, they say they have been engaged in numerous conversations with law enforcement and others about the relevant rules and laws.
“The blood will be on the hands of anyone in any type of power, who has a platform, who does not use that platform to lower the temperature and anyone who does not vote in favor of banning guns in the state capitol building and holding lawmakers accountable, who continue to incite violence,” said Anthony.
It’s pretty bold to call for lowering the temperature while accusing the members of the Capitol Commission of having blood on their hands if they don’t approve a gun ban, but I doubt anyone’s going to call Anthony out over that. I suspect the next move by Democrats will be to highlight the six individuals from the state who’ve been arrested in D.C. over the past few days, including one man busted on weapons charges.
A 25-year-old Michigan man also was arrested Wednesday in the 1000 block of Vermont Ave. NW and accused of carrying a pistol without a license, possession of a large capacity ammunition feeding device, and possession of unregistered ammunition, according to the arrest log.
If you don’t know Washington, D.C.’s streets very well, note that this guy wasn’t arrested anywhere near the Capitol. I’m very curious to learn if he has a concealed carry license, and I don’t discount the possibility that he had no nefarious intent but was simply an idiot who didn’t check to see if his license was valid in D.C. (hint: it’s not, which is why we need universal recognition of concealed carry licenses). Of course I also don’t discount the other possibilities that he had no intent to harm but knew he wasn’t legally carrying, or that he did have a violent intent. We just don’t have any more information at the moment.
Look, I want Michigan lawmakers to be safe, and I can’t discount or dismiss their fear after watching the scenes from the Capitol on Wednesday. I understand where they’re coming from. Making the capitol building a gun-free zone, however, comes with a cost. I’m sure that there are plenty of concealed carry holders who work at the Capitol, for example. Lansing’s crime rate isn’t exactly Mayberry’s, and they want to be able to protect themselves to and from work, not just while they’re on the job. We know that there are several lawmakers who carry. Why make them rely solely on the protection of their capitol police when we’ve seen how quickly a riot like that can spiral out of control?
Those issues could probably be ironed by the Capitol Commission, honestly. But exempting lawmakers and staff while prohibiting the general public from carrying is only going to inflame political tensions instead of lowering the temperature as Rep. Anthony supposedly desires.
In my opinion, the rules about carrying at the Capitol shouldn’t change at all, but if they do it should be through the Legislature, not the Capitol Commission. Don’t put it on that board of unelected officials when this is really about what lawmakers want to do. They should own the issue instead of passing the buck.
I would also say that, if legislators gave into that primal political desire to “do something,” they should in now way attempt to ban the possession of firearms completely or try to exempt themselves and their staff while disarming the general public. Again, I think any move in that direction is the wrong step to take, but if they did the least bad decision they could make would be to ban the carrying of long guns from inside the Capitol building (allowing it on the grounds outside) while allowing concealed carry holders to carry inside the building itself.
That would at least satisfy the right of self-defense and ensure that lawmakers wouldn’t be freaked out by the sight of pissed off citizens with AR-15s in the legislative galleries, while also recognizing that we can exercise our First and Second Amendment rights at the same time. If the impulse to “do something” is just too strong to resist, the smart move would be to do something that takes as many stakeholders into account as possible, rather than delivering an ineffective rule change that’s going to be seen as more of an inflammatory slap at the legal gun owners in the state than a serious attempt to protect the Capitol from a repeate of what happened in D.C. on Wednesday.