Nessel: Commission can ban guns in Capitol building

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says the Michigan State Capitol Commission has the legal authority to ban guns in the Capitol if it chooses to do so.

The Commission previously said it didn’t believe it had the authority to ban guns in the building. However, in a letter sent to the Commission on Friday, Nessel wrote it has the authority to ensure the “safety of the visiting public, as well as those who carry out the People’s work by prohibiting firearms within the Capitol building.”

>>Read the letter to the Commission here

Nessel also wrote the concept of “open carry” does not provide the unfettered right to bring firearms into any public space.

She noted while firearms regulations stem from state laws, banning firearms in public spaces does not need to come from the Legislature.

“With exceptions to those tasked with protecting our Capitol, the only way to assure that a violent episode does not occur is to act in concert with the many other state legislatures around the nation that have banned firearms in their capital facilities. The employees at our Capitol and members of the public who visit are entitled to all the same protections as one would have at a courthouse and many other public venues. Public safety demands no less, and a lawmaker’s desire to speak freely without fear of violence requires action be taken,” Nessel said in a news release.

The Michigan State Capitol Commission, which manages the Capitol grounds and building, consists of the Secretary of the Senate, the Clerk of the House of Representatives, two people jointly appointed by the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House, and two people appointed by the Governor. 

As of now, people can come into the Michigan State Capitol with firearms. That fact has come into focus after armed protestors came into the building last week. Some lawmakers have expressed fears for their safety.