Michigan Bans Open Carry Inside Capitol

Since last spring, when armed demonstrators legally protested lockdown measures inside the Michigan State Capitol building, a number of Democrat legislators have been demanding a gun ban inside the Capitol and on the grounds outside. A complete ban was rejected by the state’s Capitol Commission, which oversees the rules for the Capitol itself, several months ago, but on Monday the commission voted 6-0 to ban the open carrying of firearms inside the facility.

The open carry ban has been discussed among members of the commission and the legislature for several weeks now, but last Wednesday’s storming of the U.S. Capitol clearly gave the rule change momentum.

The vote comes after months of debate, particularly in the wake of armed protesters storming the state Capitol in April and supporters of President Donald Trump attacking the U.S. Capitol last week.

Commission Chair Gary Randall charged Vice-chair John Truscott and Commissioner Bill Kandler late last year with researching options for the panel to improve security measures around the building. While the Commission doesn’t have the funds to install metal detectors and more at entrances themselves, Kandler said, the open carry ban was something they could do immediately.

“Commissioner Truscott and I spent a lot of time figuring out how security works and how we could implement things, how security works at other buildings such as the Supreme Court,” Kandler said. “After we reviewed all the implementation aspects, we determined the extreme limit of our real authority to actually implement was to implement a ban on open carry. We don’t have the infrastructure to do much else at this time.”
As I wrote last week, I believe that the best thing the Capitol Commission could have done would have been to simply keep the rules as they were, but that if lawmakers were intent on “doing something,” this was probably the least bad option.

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 repeat of what happened in D.C. on Wednesday.

Well, that’s what the Capitol Commission did, and of course it isn’t enough for anti-gun Democrats. Both Attorney General Dana Nessel and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer are demanding a complete ban on firearms at the Capitol in Lansing.

“The Capitol Commission’s action to ban open carry guns at the Capitol is a good start, but more action is needed,” Whitmer said in a statement. “On a normal day, hundreds of people walk through the Capitol, including groups of fourth graders, teachers, and parents on school field trips to learn about state government. That’s why we must take action to ban all weapons at the Capitol to keep Michiganders safe.”

That’s an absurd argument by Whitmer. On a normal day students, teachers, and parents run across concealed carry holders at the grocery store, restaurants, gas stations, and other establishments without even realizing it, and the same holds true for anyone walking by someone who’s lawfully carrying concealed at the Capitol. It’s also absurd to think that if someone has evil intentions that they’re going to be dissuaded by the Capitol being declared a gun-free zone.

The rules shouldn’t have changed, in my opinion, but at least they still currently recognize the right to carry both inside the Capitol and on the grounds. Any further restrictions would go beyond regulating the manner of carry and impose an outright ban, which would fail to make anyone safer but would infringe on the right to bear arms.