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Budget request includes money to enforce Capitol gun ban

man in white shirt and blue tie puts hand over stomach and has a holster with a gun on it on his left side
Adobe Stock

Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s newest budget request includes $5 million to pay for enforcing a gun ban at the state Capitol.

That’s after the Michigan State Capitol Commission voted last week to ban the open carry of guns in the building by people who don’t have a license to carry a concealed firearm.

But the commission said it does not have the money or the authority to go further.

Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist said the budget request gives the Legislature a chance to remedy that.

“The Capitol Commission took a step in terms of banning open carry, but that doesn’t mean people can’t come in with guns in their pockets, so that’s still not really delivering safety,” he said. “They claim they need money in order to do a full ban, and now they have it so they need to step up to the plate. And the Legislature can do that.”

The money could be used to set up metal detectors and inspection stations at the public entrances to the Capitol.

Gilchrist said the Capitol should have metal detectors just like courthouses and many other government buildings.

“This is a matter of keeping people safe or not keeping people safe,” he said.

But there’s no indication the Legislature’s ready to grant that request. Requests for comment from the House and Senate GOP majorities Wednesday were not answered.

Earlier, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) said he would support a ban on open carry, but not on concealed carry.

The open carry ban won’t apply to law enforcement or people with concealed pistol licenses. But there’s still no way to know whether people are carrying a concealed gun legally or illegally into the Capitol.

The request would have to be approved by the Legislature, but Republican leaders have not signed on. That’s despite April’s armed protest in Lansing and the assault on the U.S. Capitol.

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Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.