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"It will most likely be unanimous,": Michigan Capitol comissioner tells Fox 17 that open carry gun ban is likely in Michigan Capitol

Lansing Capitol
Posted at 8:23 PM, Jan 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-06 20:49:03-05

Update on Sunday, Jan. 10 at 9:45 p.m. EST: In regards to banning guns at the Michigan Capitol, one Capitol commissioner has confirmed with Fox 17 that they have enough votes to outlaw open carry guns in Lansing.

“Looks like votes are there to ban open carry and it will most likely be unanimous," said the Commissioner.

It's the only item currently on the Capitol commission's agenda for their meeting set for tomorrow at 1 p.m.

“I can't really comment firmly until the vote is taken, but all indications are that there is support," another board member told Fox 17.

This story is developing. In addition to updating this web article, we will provide updates in our newscasts, as they become readily available.

Wednesday, Jan. 6, at 8:45 p.m. EST: What happened in Washington D.C. on Wednesday is renewing the push to ban guns at the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing.

And there’s a chance that could happen as early as this month.

Representative Sarah Anthony wanted them banned after more than a dozen men were arrested for their plot to kidnap the governor.

Based on what happened Wednesday, she says it’s even more important now.

“I’ve continued to say that it’s not a matter of if something happens, if violence reaches our doors, reaches our building, it’s a matter of when,” said Anthony.

She’s no stranger to the debate over guns at the Capitol.

Anthony made headlines last year after being escorted into work by armed constituents. They stepped up to help because of intimidation last spring, from apparent Trump supporters flying confederate flags to at least one noose that was seen hanging from the back of a truck.

The displays were all part of a protest in April over Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s extended state of emergency. People openly carrying weapons were seen shouting at politicians.

One senator even tweeted this picture saying, "Some of my colleagues who own bulletproof vests are wearing them."

“So all of those mixed emotions, but I definitely felt sheer terror for the people who are in the US Capitol, and it was hard not to reflect back on our experience here in Michigan.”

The rioting in DC on Wednesday led to a tweet Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel saying, "Is now a good time to renew discussions about banning guns at the Michigan Capitol?"

“Across the street from the Michigan State Capitol is City Hall where firearms are not allowed. Behind the state Capitol is the courts. There are no firearms allowed there. And so I ultimately do not believe that the presence of firearms creates an environment that is safe and ensures security for the men and women who work in that capitol building,” said Anthony.

“I know we have to ban firearms and probably many other weapons from the Capitol building,” said Bill Kandler, who’s worked to preserve the building in Lansing for 30 years.

About five years ago he became one of six Capitol commissioners. In order for them to ban guns, at least four of them have to vote in favor. Only the Capitol Commission, not lawmakers, can do so.

“What we’re talking about voting on now is a ban on open carry. We could ban all weapons tomorrow, but it wouldn’t mean anything,” he said.

That’s because they first need a plan. Including the number of metal detectors required, a budget to pay for everything, where they would put state police, and also counting the traffic flow in and out of the building.

“There are a lot of people who come in and out of the Capitol building. So, it would not be possible for us to immediately ban all weapons because we can’t search everybody. We could put a ban on open carry probably overnight. The wording may give us more days than that, but it would be pretty quick.”

It’s been more than eight months since those gunmen stormed the Capitol in Lansing. Rep. Anthony hopes the violence in DC will wake up commission members to act now.

“And so, I don’t know what it’s going to take what else can be done to have this Capitol Commission ultimately to do the right thing. But we’re seeing bloodshed in our US Capitol, and it’s only a matter of time before we see it in our state Capitol.”

Kandler tells Fox 17 that according to state law, the commission cannot even meet until the fourth week of January, which is when banning guns could be on the agenda again.

I reached out to the republican house speaker and senate majority leader for comment but have not heard back.

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