LANSING, Mich. – The riots in Washington, D.C. Wednesday that left five people dead has reignited debates over whether guns should be allowed inside Michigan’s Capitol Building.
The debate first started in spring, when armed protesters entered the State Capitol.
Wednesday’s fatal riot in D.C. and a bomb threat in Lansing Thursday have lawmakers reexamining their stance and law enforcement on high alert.
With the new legislative session starting in days, security of the Capitol will likely take center stage. Michigan’s previous session was marked by attempts at political violence -- none more so than the domestic terrorist plot to kidnap and kill Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, hold lawmakers hostage and potentially host televised executions from inside the Capitol.
The building was closed for security reasons for the second time recently after a man -- now in custody -- made a false bomb threat, but not before incoming House Minority Leader Donna Lasinski could make it to work.
“Do I go through the doors because I know the Michigan State Police are right on the other side? Do I turn and walk away? Do I run. It’s impossible to come to work when you are under that constant threat,” Lasinski said.
State Democratic leaders have been pushing for strict weapon policies for months since armed protesters stormed Lansing in March. Security experts are now viewing that event as a potential practice run for those who stormed the U.S. Capitol Building Wednesday.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey signaled he would favor banning the open carrying of guns at the Capitol, but others -- like Lasinski -- want more.
“There should be no weapons of any kind in our Capitol,” Lasinski said. “That allowed domestic terrorists unfettered access to our people’s house on a day to day basis.”
The Capitol commission -- which is in charge of the Capitol’s weapon policies -- denied two proposals to ban weapons over summer. It will meet Monday to discuss open carry in Lansing.