State News

6-0 vote bars any more armed protests inside Michigan Capitol

January 11, 2021, 2:05 PM by  Alan Stamm

A partial gun-safety step for the state Capitol is adopted five days after a rampage at the U.S. Capitol stunned the world.

"The Michigan State Capitol Commission voted unanimously Monday to ban the open carry of firearms at the state Capitol ... ahead of anticipated protests next week," The Detroit News reports from Lansing.

The vote comes after years of consideration of a potential ban on gun possession in the Michigan Capitol, a debate that ratcheted up last spring during armed protests of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-home order.

During an April 30 protest, dozens of people — some of whom were armed — went inside the Capitol, demanded entry to the House floor and stood with firearms in the Senate gallery above lawmakers while they were in session. 

Yet the six-member commission declined to adopt an open-carry ban when considering it in May and September. Beth LeBlanc of The News notes that "the Michigan Capitol ... has long lagged behind other state capitols with stricter enforcements on guns."

Some Democratic lawmakers push for prohibiting all firearms, including legally concealed ones.

Rep. Laurie Pohutsky, D-Livonia, tweets Monday night: "Banning open carry is not enough. Legislators, staff, and the public aren't safe as long as weapons are allowed in the Capitol and offices."

Earlier coverage, Monday morning:

Support for banning openly displayed firearms in Michigan's Legislature now reportedly is unanimous among Michigan State Capitol Commission members, who meet in that building at 1 p.m. today.

All six members now back the move they sidestepped last May and September, according to Michigan Information Research Service (MIRS), a subscription newsletter in Lansing. "The vote is expected to be unanimous," a six-paragraph item says Sunday night.

Under the plan, which had three votes the last time the commission voted, concealed weapons would be legal, but the Michigan State Police would monitor the entrance to the building and prevent the open carrying oif weapons.

Commissioners Bill Kandler, Joan Bauer and Kerry Chartkoff  have been a "yes" vote on this already. Secretary of the Senate Margaret O'Brien told MIRS tonight that she would be a yes on banning open carrying.

And MIRS has learned John Truscott and House Clerk Gary Randall are in support of the policy change as well. 

Sen. Stephanie Chang: "All firearms must be banned inside the Capitol."(Photo: Michigan Senate Democrats)

Last Thursday, a day after the U.S. Capitol takeover, Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey spoke in favor of an open-carry ban in Lansing's building for the first time.

Only eight other states allow openly carried and concealed firearms at their capitols, Michigan Advance says Monday. Nebraska allows visible guns, but not concealed ones.

Some Michigan legislators want a full ban, including on concealed guns.

"This will do nothing to prevent weapons from getting into the Capitol," Sen. Mallory McMorrow, D-Royal Oak, tweets. In an email to the commission, she writes: "I implore you to do everything in your power to poreevent tragedy in our beautiful Capitol. People's lives are worth too much not to act."

Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, emailed the commission late Sunday: "The insurrection at our nation's Capitol last week stunned many Americans. ... A ban on open carry simply does not go far enough. ... All firearms must be banned inside the Capitol. The cost of additional personnel and metal detectors simply cannot compare to the cost oif human lives, should an insurrection of other type of violence be attempted in Michigan."

Sen. Dayna Polehanki, D-Livonia, tweeted a day after the U.S. Capitol violence that prohibiting visible guns "is NOT a viable option to keep us/visitors safe. All this does is prevent embarrassing photos from going viral. We can just as easily be slaughtered by concealed weapons. Stop with the half measures and ban all guns from the Michigan Capitol."

Original article, Sunday:

A public safety topic is back on an agenda in Lansing, elevated by the Battle of Capitol Hill.


The Michigan State Capitol Commission meets Monday afternoon to reconsider banning openly carried firearms in that 1878 landmark. Its six members discussed the hot-button topic in May, weeks after armed protesters stormed the building, and then again in September.

Joan Bauer, a member appointed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, says a disrupted plot to kidnap her and Wednesday's storming of the U.S. Capitol propels the matter to the forefront again. She wants an open carry ban established before the legislature's 2021-22 term opens Wednesday, and would like a ban on all weapons eventually.

(Photo: Michigan State Capitol Commission)

"What I hope is on Monday we have a motion that would immediately ban open carry guns," she tells WLIX in Lansing. "We have had several legislators contact us urging the commission to do something before that date." 

State Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey now backs an open-carry ban. Attorney General Dana Nessel reaffirmed her support Friday on Twitter: "Our lawmakers and everyone else who works at or visits the MI Capitol should not have to risk their lives to participate in government activities."

The 1 p.m. meeting will be livstreamed from the Capitol by Michigan House TV and Michigan Senate TV. Public comments can be submitted to

The original meeting date of Jan. 25 was rescheduled last Friday evening after Whitmer called again on the commission to ban firearms. "It's the people's building. This is a place where fourth-graders come to learn about state government," she said at a Friday afternoon briefing.

"We have a duty to make sure that this is a place that is safe for all who come into our state Capitol. That means that we should have some restrictions with regard to people bringing weapons into this building," the governor added.

Capitol Commission leaders determined in September that installing metal detectors would be costly and could detract from the landmark's historical integrity -- a position that alarms Sen. Senator Dayna Polehanki, a Democrat from western Wayne County. "The Michigan Capitol is not safe until the Capitol Commission or Republicans in the legislature gather the courage to ban ALL guns and install metal detectors," she tweeted Friday.

Commission members are:

  • William C. Kandler, representing historic preservationists
  • Joan E. Bauer, representing the governor
  • Chair Gary Randall, House clerk
  • Vice chair John Truscott, representing the clerk of the House and secretary of the Senate
  • Kerry Chartkoff, representing the House clerk and Senate secretary
  • Maragret O'Brien, secretary of the Senate

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