Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has tucked a few million dollars to fund a ban on firearms at the State Capitol inside of a massive $5.6 billion COVID recovery bill. The $5-million would go towards funding metal detectors and other security enhancements even though guns aren’t actually banned at the Capitol.
Despite that inconvenient truth, Whitmer’s moving full speed ahead in pressuring the Republican-controlled legislature to put the ban in place.
The Michigan State Capitol Commission (MSCC) on Jan. 11 voted to enact a ban on the open carry of firearms in the state Capitol chambers.
The commissioners’ decision was unanimous, but new House Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-Clare) later indicated he does not believe the commission has the power to set Capitol policy. Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) has said he backs that ban.
Several lawmakers are still holding out for a ban on concealed carry, which MSCC members said would take additional funds to enact. That includes state Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D-Livonia), who said the $5 million appropriation could pay for the additional staff and security equipment needed to enforce a full weapons ban.
“By requesting this funding, Governor Whitmer has demonstrated that she has made the safety of legislators, staff and Capitol visitors a priority and has likewise eliminated any excuses for the commission’s failure to get the job done by moving from a ban on open carry to a ban on all weapons,” Polehanki said.
Actually, by requesting this funding in the manner that she did, Governor Whitmer has demonstrated that she’s willing to play games with COVID relief for Michigan residents in order to disarm visitors and employees to the state capitol complex.
This provision should be stripped out of Whitmer’s proposal before it ever receives a vote. The policy of the MSCC as it stands right now is a decent one; open carrying is allowed on the grounds of the Capitol, while concealed carry is allowed inside the building.
To turn the Capitol into a gun-free zone not only sends the message that lawmakers don’t trust the people they represent, it puts legislators and staffers at risk. During session many of these folks work odd and long hours, and may be walking to their car and driving home late at night. Crime is soaring in Lansing at the moment, but Whitmer and Democrats don’t seem to be too concerned about that.
Let’s also be honest here. If an angry armed mob ever did attack the Michigan Capitol, does anybody really think that magnetometers would stop them? The idea itself is utterly absurd. Instead of saving lives, Whitmer’s proposal would ensure that if, God forbid, that type of violence was ever visited on the state Capitol no employee, staffer, visitor, or lawmaker could fight back in self-defense with a gun of their own.
The odds are slim that such an attack would ever take place. The prospect of a Capitol employee or staffer being robbed, raped, or carjacked because they had to leave their gun behind when they set off to work is much more likely. Either way, Whitmer’s attempted ban on guns at the Capitol would leave people less safe, and should be rejected by the legislature as quickly as possible.