Senate Dems debut bills to ban firearms from Capitol

Bills come as Capitol Commission continues to delay decision

By: - September 30, 2020 8:15 am

Second Amendment March at the Capitol, Sept. 17, 2020 | Laina G. Stebbins

State Sens. Rosemary Bayer (D-Beverly Hills) and Dayna Polehanki (D-Livonia) introduced a set of bills Tuesday that would ban all firearms — both open and concealed carry — from the Michigan State Capitol building, with the exceptions of state law enforcement and sergeants-at-arms.

The Democrats proposed the legislation as an alternative to waiting on the Michigan State Capitol Commission (MSCC) to make a decision on the matter.

Since armed right-wing protesters pressed their way into the state Capitol during session in April, prompting concerns about Michigan’s lack of firearm regulation in its capitol building, the MSCC has delayed a determination on whether or not to ban guns from the building six times.

“Earlier this year, I took a photo of armed men in the gallery above us that made international news, and people from all over the world wrote to me expressing their concern,” Polehanki said in a statement Tuesday. “We should not normalize what happened that day. I, and many others, feared for our lives and our voices. In the absence of any action at all from the Capitol Commission, we are offering this legislation to do what they continue to drag their feet on: Protect the people who come and go from the Capitol Building before something truly terrible, and tragic, happens.”

Senate Bills 1158 and 1159 (introduced by Bayer and Polehanki, respectively) are not yet available on the Michigan Legislature website. SB 1158 would amend Michigan’s 1927 law governing firearm regulations, while SB 1159 would modify the state penal code.

Other gun reform legislation has languished in the GOP-led Legislature this term.

Polehanki also introduced Senate Resolution 118 in May urging the MSCC to install security checkpoints and prohibit firearms from both the Capitol building and grounds. That resolution has not moved from committee since then.

Earlier this month, a group of House Democrats also announced a five-bill package to abolish the MSCC and shift control of its powers to the Legislative Council.

Those bills were referred to the House Committee on Government Operations  on Sept. 22.

“The only reason most people bring firearms into the Capitol is to intimidate and that is not how the state’s Capitol — the people’s house — is designed to work, nor should it continue to be permissible,” Bayer said. “These bills do not impede on responsible gun owners from exercising their rights outside on the Capitol lawn, but rather would ensure the Capitol building remains a safe and respectful working environment inside for all legislators, staff, and visitors.”

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).