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Attack reignites talk on guns in state Capitol

LANSING (AP) — Concerns over security at Michigan’s Capitol have reignited after the U.S. Capitol came under attack by a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters last week.

In Michigan, concealed and open carry firearms are allowed in the Capitol, but signs have been banned since 2012 after right-to-work protesters came to the Capitol.

Since last spring when armed protesters entered the building and yelled at members of security outside the legislative chambers to be let inside, calls to ban firearms in the statehouse have been made, but no changes have come in weapons policies. Changes may now come in the wake of the attack on the U.S Capitol that interrupted Congress’s Electoral College vote for Joe Biden as president. Several people died, including a police officer, and numerous people were injured.

The Michigan State Capitol Commission, which is responsible for overseeing the Capitol and ultimately for making a decision on the future of firearms, has pushed back on accepting the responsibility and its leadership maintains its role should be limited.

The commission had scheduled a meeting at the end of the month, but moved up the date to Monday, following the attack last week.

According to the Capitol Commission, tours alone bring in 115,000 people a year, not including those who work or visit to participate in the affairs of the Capitol. Though in-person tours during the pandemic have been halted, there are concerns for when visitors return.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer repeated her call on the Capitol Commission to ban firearms from the Capitol during a news conference on Friday, not just for those elected to work there, but for everyone who visits.

“It’s the people’s building. This is a place where fourth-graders come to learn about state government,” Whitmer said. “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.”

A spokesperson for Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said Thursday that the senator would support a ban on open carry firearms within the Capitol building. Before this week he had not publicly expressed support to alter the firearms status for the Capitol.

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