Politics & Policy

Michigan Gov. Calls for Banning Guns in Capitol after Lockdown Protest

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer speaks during a campaign event in Detroit, Mich., March 9, 2020. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said Wednesday that she supports banning firearms in the state Capitol after armed protesters demonstrated against the state’s strict lockdown measures last week.

“There are legislators who are wearing bulletproof vests to go to work,” Whitmer told NBC News. “No one should be intimidated by someone who’s bringing in an assault rifle into their workplace.”

Dozens of protesters, some of them armed, went to the Michigan Capitol on Thursday last week and stood in the Senate gallery, which is open to the public, intimidating lawmakers and causing Democrats to reconsider the policy of allowing firearms inside the building. Michigan State Police troopers blocked the demonstrators clamoring to enter the House chamber.

Michigan allows the open-carry of firearms, and it is currently legal to bring guns into the state Capitol building in Lansing.

“There is conversation about changing that law,” the Democratic governor said of the possibility of banning guns inside the Capitol. “I think it’s long overdue, and I absolutely support that change. You shouldn’t be intimidated going to be the voice of the people who elected you.”

She went on to say the protests resembled “political rallies” and protesters were making a “political statement” since “Michigan is an important state and the 2020 presidential election is looming.”

Whitmer has attracted harsh criticism for her strict coronavirus lockdown polices, which prohibited residents from visiting their second residences and banned the sale of paint, furniture, and garden equipment.

“There’s no question that there’s intense pressure to reopen, whether it’s coming from the White House or the people of our state, and that’s playing out all across the country,” Whitmer said Wednesday, adding that she recognizes people are “getting weary” of the social distancing measures.

“And yet we know that the data tells us COVID-19 is still a very real threat in this country, all across the country,” she added.

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