Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel noted that many other states have similar polices.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says she is in favor of a proposal that would ban guns from inside the state’s capitol building.
Since the beginning of April, armed protesters have demonstrated against Whitmer’s coronavirus response several times. At the end of the month, men with semi-automatic rifles were photographed inside the Capitol.
Right now, there is no prohibition against members of the public bringing firearms inside the building.
That may change, however, if Whitmer and her allies succeed in pushing a proposal that would ban guns from the Capitol.
“There are legislators who are wearing bulletproof vests to go to work,” Whitmer told NBC News on Wednesday. “No one should be intimidated by someone who’s bringing in an assault rifle into their workplace.”
“And so there is conversation about changing that law,” she said. “I think it’s long overdue, and I absolutely support the change. You shouldn’t be intimidated going to be the voice of the people who elected you.”
Whitmer said there’s considerable pressure to lift Michigan’s shelter-in-place orders. Many of the state’s residents—political affiliation aside—have struggled to cope with the burdens of an extended lockdown.
Michigan, for instance, is suffering record-high unemployment rates. And many Michiganders who should be entitled to unemployment benefits have struggled to get them.
However, Whitmer has suggested that recent protests—including April’s “Gridlock” demonstration—have a distinct political component. She told NBC that her office been targeted because she may be nominated as Joe Biden’s running mate in the upcoming presidential election.
“I think that you could conclude that there is a definite political component here,” Whitmer said.
“These protests were more like political rallies, and then you’ve got the partisan propaganda,” she added. “You saw the signs that people made. This was a political statement, because Michigan is an important state and the 2020 presidential election is looming.”
The Hill notes that some demonstrators spotted outside the Capitol last were brandishing not only firearms but Confederate flags and swastika armbands, too.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has said banning firearms from the Capitol is not only legally justifiable but morally necessary.
“With exceptions to those tasked with protecting our Capitol, the only way to assure that a violent episode does not occur is to act in concert with many other state legislatures around the nation that have banned firearms in their capital facilities,” Nessel said in a press release.
“The employees at our Capitol and members of the public who visit are entitled to all the same protections as one would have at a courthouse and many other public venues,” she added. “Public safety demands no less, and a lawmaker’s desire to speak freely without fear of violence requires action be taken.”
The Michigan State Capitol Commission is scheduled to meet Monday morning; the first item of discussion on its agenda will be “firearms in the Capitol and on Capitol Square.”