Politics

Lapointe: Half-safety step means you still can bring a concealed gun into Michigan's Capitol

January 12, 2021, 1:00 AM by  Joe Lapointe

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Lansing protesters last spring.

Last week’s deadly Trump Riot at the U.S. Capitol in Washington inspired a good half-measure in Michigan. It  embarrassed or frightened The Mitten’s legislature into banning the open carry of firearms into the State House and Senate.

But anyone still can walk around outside the Lansing building with an assault rifle and concealed carry permit holders can pack heat indoors while watching legislators make law for the Great Lakes State.

Such oppression! Thank goodness you can still tote a deadly weapon in case you get challenged to a duel.

The gun rules changed Monday by a 6-0 vote of Michigan’s State Capitol Commission, which runs the building. It came less than a week after they got the nod from Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey.

It’s been a major issue since spring, when big guys with beards stormed the joint displaying their big guns. The pressure grew urgent when a lynch mob in Washington overran Capitol police last week and chanted “Hang Mike Pence!” after the vice-president wouldn't break the law and overturn a legitimate election in defiance of his boss, Donald Trump.

In the Michigan dress rehearsal last April, vigilantes growled that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was tyrannical because she tried to impose commercial and social shutdowns to battle the fatal Covid-19 pandemic sweeping the state, the nation and the world.

Two of those demonstrators (among others) got busted a half-year later as part of a plot to take the state capitol by siege while kidnapping and murdering the governor.

Trump’s cop-killing insurrection was a logical extension of the Michigan method. He triggered it with a defiant speech outside the White House in which he again lied that he was cheated out of a re-election victory against President-elect Joe Biden.

Law and order?

Trump’s terrorists in his white riot, like those in Michigan, carried Confederate flags, snake flags and Trump flags. More so than in Michigan, they showed their support for “law-and-order” by assaulting police, breaking stuff and looting.

Five people died in Washington. None have yet in Michigan demonstrations, but the FBI warns of more armed protests at 50 state capitols in the lead-up to Biden’s inauguration Jan. 20.

Assuming the Legislature doesn’t further act against guns after it reconvenes on Wednesday, Michigan protestors will still be allowed to loom while armed from the balconies during the coming days of rage.

How can this be?

Certainly, you couldn’t bring a gun – displayed or concealed – into one of Trump’s many Michigan rallies or even into a Red Wings’ hockey game. But you can do it at the Legislature in Lansing because Republicans – over-represented thanks to gerrymandering – fear their own constituents, especially the armed ones who are right-wing extremists.

They have many lame excuses for not adding a concealed handgun ban.

One is that it might cost $1 million to install equipment to screen people. Sure, we can do it at every airport. But, somehow, the cost of protecting human life in the state capitol is too much for Michigan taxpayers.

Another weak reason is that modern technological equipment might tarnish the 143-year-old building's “historic authenticity.”

'Fully locked and loaded'

Attorney General Dana Nessel – who wants stronger prohibitions – notes Tuesday morning that the new policy "does not impose a mechanism to check to confirm that people carrying a concealed weapon are licensed CPL holders."

For her part, the governor said Monday in a statement: "More action is needed. ... We must take action to ban all weapons at the Capitol."

A false bomb threat evacuated the Capitol last Thursday. Sen. Dayna Polehanki, a Democrat from Detroit’s western suburbs. recently brought new supplies for her desk for the new session, she tells The New York TimesThey include a police helmet, a gas mask and a can of mace to store alongside her bulletproof vest.

Referring to Trump’s Washington uprising, she says: “I can’t say with certainty that it wouldn’t happen here, too. Those insurrectionists won the day. The difference here is that guns are welcome in our Capitol.”

Last week, the Michigan Republican Party bragged that it sent 19 busloads of protestors to Washington. Some appear on the gate-crashing videos and a few have been arrested. It is as if Michigan’s belligerent political attitude is a contagious virus contaminating the nation.

Related:

6-0 vote bars any more armed protests inside Michigan Capitol, Jan. 11



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