After protesters stormed the Michigan Capitol Building with assault weapons, the policy allowing firearms to be openly carried in the capitol are being reevaluated.
LANSING, MI — At the end of April, armed gunmen stormed the Michigan Capitol Building, demanded to be let in to the House chambers and were rebuffed by police. Meanwhile, fearing the worst, legislators came to work in bulletproof vests.
This nightmare-sounding event was a planned protest. Those gunmen were referred to as the envent’s ‘security’ by protest organizers, The ‘Gander reported.
This whole wild ordeal has the Capitol Building looking at changing policies that allowed assault rifles inside the building.
The Detroit Free Press reported the Michigan Capitol Commission reconsidering policies that have permitted open carry in the building. The national attention the protests garnered has the six-member Commission seeking legal advice and assessing its options.
The protest’s use of firearms has even been divisive among gun advocates and conservatives.
“We do not like seeing guns brought into the building — loaded guns — and I’m a Second Amendment advocate,” said Republican Vice-Chair of the Commission, John Truscott, to WILS. “It’s the rule of law that will dictate what happens here.”
Truscott encouraged Michigan’s Legislature, which by and large enacted policies the protesters demanded while they occupied the building, to make the prohibition of loaded firearms inside the Capitol Building a matter of law.
That’s extremely unlikely. House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) told Michigan Information & Research Service Monday that he is against any effort to prevent firearms from being carried into the Michigan Capitol Building.
Truscott also noted that the Capitol Building has seen its fair share of Second Amendment protesters in the past, and they have historically been respectful. But following Thursday’s display, open carry inside the building ought to be reevaluated.
Truscott isn’t the only conservative voice expressing alarm at the protesters in Lansing. Fox host Sean Hannity called these armed protests dangerous.
“This, with the militia look here, and these long guns, uh… no. Show of force is dangerous. That puts our police at risk,” Hannity said. “And by the way, your message will never be heard, whoever you people are.”
Protests had other disturbing imagery, including placards calling for the hanging of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, racist iconography and protesters evoking the image of the terrorist protagonist of the 2005 film V for Vendetta who, notably, blew up a legislative building at the end of the film.
State police downplayed the event at the time, saying the protest was just people loudly venting their frustrations.
“There’s always a risk, but we were prepared for it,” Lt. Brian Oleksyk told the Free Press. “People are allowed to exercise their right to freedom of speech and their right to open carry. We always kept an eye on it.”
But as activists told The ‘Gander, had it been protesters of color venting frustrations it is highly unlikely things would’ve ended so peacefully.
“I don’t think that protesters [of color] would’ve been met with just Sheriff’s deputies and state troopers standing in masks, I think it would’ve been the riot guards,” Alisa Parker, activist and co-founder of Michigan-based ANP Consulting told The ‘Gander. “I think there’d have been tear gas or some other form of crowd control used before they even got to the capitol.”
Parker, and others, noted that the Capitol Building prohibits signs that might be used as weapons, but not actual assault weapons, in a strange preference of implicit and potentially violent intimidation over the right to peacefully air grievances.
“I don’t think it’s at all surprising, but it’s just another reminder that there’s definitely a difference when it comes to race,” Parker told The ‘Gander.
Michigan’s Capitol Building doesn’t even have metal detectors. Bridge notes that when it temporarily did in 1999, protesters felt they were discriminated against by being subjected to security screenings.