Advance Notice: Briefs

On open carry day at the Capitol, Democrat sponsors bill to end sign ban

By: - September 10, 2019 12:42 pm

Open carry rally at the Michigan Capitol, Sept. 10, 2019 | Claire Moore

Dozens of people gathered outside the Michigan Capitol on Tuesday for the annual pro-gun rally. Many open carried in the halls afterward, as has become a Lansing tradition, although their pro-Second Amendment and pro-President Donald Trump signs had to be left behind.

Sen. Jeremy Moss at Affirmations in Ferndale, June 3, 2019 | Derek Robertson

State Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) took the opportunity to point out that although firearms are allowed in the Capitol signs are not, thanks to a Michigan State Capitol Commission policy. Moss said he’s introduced a bill to end the sign ban, arguing it would reinstate the public’s “ability to exercise their First Amendment Right to Freedom of Speech.”

“This morning, a Second Amendment rally will take place in front of the State Capitol and rally attendees will open carry inside the building. But every day here, visitors must leave any signs at the door because signs are the only items specifically prohibited upon entry,” Moss said in an early-morning statement.

“As major retailers across the country have stated that open carry does not contribute to a safe environment, our building continues to only worry about poster board.”

Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas

As the Advance reported on Tuesday, retail giant Meijer is the latest store to ask its customers not to carry guns after recent mass shootings in Ohio and Texas.

The rally featured a giant “Build the Wall” display as an ode to Trump, which was present at a Grand Rapids demonstration against presidential critic U.S. Justin Amash (I-Cascade Twp.), as well as speeches by lawmakers including state Reps. Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain) and Michele Hoitenga (R-Manton).

The six-member Capitol Commission includes Secretary of the Senate Margaret O’Brien, a former GOP state senator; Clerk of the House Gary Randall; Truscott-Rossman President John Truscott; and former state Rep. Joan Bauer.

Photo gallery by Claire Moore

Moss said the Michigan State Capitol Commission’s policy is opposite that of the U.S. Capitol Police, where visitors are permitted to carry signs, but firearms are banned on U.S. Capitol grounds.

“Our priorities as a state are backwards if the only way you can bring a sign into our Capitol is to plaster it to the side of your gun. Lawmakers are tasked with applying our Constitutional rights evenly, yet the current policy diminishes our First Amendment right to free speech and assembly,” Moss said. “Let the signs in.”

Advance Reporting Intern Claire Moore contributed to this story.

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Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 23-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on C-SPAN, MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQ people, the state budget, the economy and more. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 100 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive.