Advance Notice: Briefs

Capitol panel closes open-carry loophole

By: - May 19, 2021 12:38 pm

Michigan Home Guard militia members at the Second Amendment March at the Capitol, Sept. 17, 2020 | Laina G. Stebbins

In January, after months of security concerns stemming from armed right-wing demonstrations at the Michigan Capitol, a small bipartisan panel voted to ban open carry of firearms in the historic building for the first time.

That panel met again Monday to strengthen that rule, following an incident earlier this month that illuminated a loophole in the ban allowing some gun owners to still open carry in the state Capitol.

The Michigan State Capitol Commission’s (MSCC) initial rule, as adopted unanimously in January with the blessing of Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) but without that of House Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-Clare), banned open carry of firearms, but included an exception for concealed pistol license (CPL) holders.

Commission enacts open carry ban at Capitol, GOP speaker contests panel’s authority

However, the language in the rule was loose enough that it technically did not prohibit CPL holders from open carrying, as well. A man openly carrying a holstered gun on his hip with a CPL was allowed to enter the Capitol building earlier this month.

Democratic lawmakers, gun control advocates, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and some members of the MSCC have all been vocal about the limitations of a concealed carry ban since April 2020, when armed protesters loomed over a state Senate session and right-wing rhetoric against COVID-19 orders grew more hostile. 

During former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, Democratic managers argued the Michigan demonstrations were a “dress rehearsal” for the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

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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).