Extremist plot to storm Capitol Hill unlikely to change gun policy


LANSING – The revelation that an extremist group was plotting to storm the Michigan Capitol building and kidnap lawmakers is unlikely to push Michigan State Capitol commissioners to push forward a proposal to ban the building’s weapons.

“In today’s environment, it’s probably a long way, unfortunately,” said Commissioner William Kandler.

The Capitol Commission, which is responsible for overseeing the Capitol building, has deliberated on whether to limit guns in the building since a rowdy protest in April against coronavirus shutdowns, during which some protesters transported weapons in the building.

Some Democratic lawmakers have said they have not felt safe on Capitol Hill since the protest.

Although they have the power to establish a gun rule, the commissioners appear to hand control to the Republican leaders in the House and Senate.

Last month, the majority of Capitol commissioners voted against an outright gun ban on Capitol Hill. The committee split 3-3 on a ban on openly carried weapons, which also failed to pass.

Instead, they chose Kandler and Commissioner John Truscott to agree to a meeting with Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, both Republicans, to discuss politics.

Following:No gun ban at the Michigan Capitol. For now, at least.

Kandler said the commissioners wanted to deal with the issue without partisanship, but were warned that was not possible.

“They kind of let us know that if we took action it would be seen as partisan,” he said.

Shirkey agreed that the Capitol Commission should not be responsible for establishing gun policy. He doesn’t expect to take gun legislation this year and doesn’t support the Capitol Hill gun ban.

“It is a long-standing thing for citizens to be able to enter and leave their building in a respectful manner,” he said. “Plus the extra precautions, the extra capital investment, whatever is needed to do something that, frankly I think, would be hard not to conclude that this is a violation, or the less of a challenge, of our constitution. “

Reports: Men accused of conspiracy visited the Capitol this year

Images and news reports indicate that some of the men arrested this week in connection with a national and federal investigation into domestic terrorism have carried guns on Capitol Hill grounds this year.

A State Journal image shows William Null, 38, of Shelbyville, sitting on the steps of the Capitol on June 18. He was working as a security guard for an “American Patriot” rally.

Media such as Detroit News and Bridge Michigan reported that William Null and his twin, Michael Null, of Plainwell, attended the April 30 protest where armed protesters stood in the gallery above lawmakers.

The Null Brothers were arrested along with Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, Brandon Caserta, Paul Bellar, Shawn Fix, Eric Molitor in related state and federal investigations this week. They face charges related to domestic terrorism.

Shirkey said it was inappropriate to confuse the debate over the Capitol’s guns policy with the kidnapping plot.

“We could have asked these same people to show up at the Capitol in coats and ties and make themselves comfortable in the gallery just to define a project, unfortunately,” he said. “Whether or not they have long guns with them, et cetera, is really irrelevant.”

Commissioners want legislature to decide on Capitol Hill weapons policy

Despite having the legal authority to establish a weapons policy, the Capitol commissioners have repeatedly expressed unease at the idea of ​​making what they expect to be a controversial appeal.

Kandler said he hoped the legislature would change the legal authority of the Capitol Commission to remove its ability to ban guns. He said the legislature should decide.

Democratic lawmakers have introduced bills to dissolve the Capitol Commission or to ban guns through legislation with no apparent success.

“I just don’t know what else it will take next to someone who actually gets hurt,” said Rep. Sarah Anthony, D-Lansing. “And it’s a terrifying place, as a state, as a nation. That we’re going to wait until there is bloodshed for someone to wake up.”

Anthony has been among the most vocal lawmakers calling for a gun ban, but she said her September appearance before the Capitol Commission would be her last. She is afraid of becoming a target.

State Representative Sarah Anthony, D-Lansing.

“I don’t intend to go into this building unless I absolutely have to,” she said, “which is really sad.”

Following:Armed activists escort Representative Anthony to the Michigan Capitol, where she vows to work “without intimidation or fear”

Capitol commissioners spent months discussing, debating and investigating what it would take to ban weapons from the building.

After Attorney General Dana Nessel assured the commissioners they had the authority to act, they sought a second opinion from lawyer Gary P. Gordon, who agreed with Nessel.

Then Kandler and Truscott began to research what it would mean to implement a ban.

They signaled in September that it would be a major undertaking to adopt a total gun ban because, as Commission Chairman Gary Randall argued, they couldn’t do it without an expensive security system.

“You can say, ‘You can’t come in,’ but unless you have people at the door to identify and stop people, that’s wrong,” said Randall, who is also the House Clerk and former Republican legislator.

Randall said he was offended by suggestions that he took the safety of others lightly.

A ban on weapons, especially one that was not associated with increased security, would not have stopped a plot to storm the Capitol like the one described in the terrorism investigation revealed on Thursday, he said. -he declares.

“The people who are planning to overthrow the government are obviously not law-abiding people,” he said. “So the fact that he [would be] illegal bringing guns to Capitol Hill would have very little impact on what they planned to do. “

The Capitol Commission canceled its October meeting. Its next meeting is scheduled for November 9.

Contact Carol Thompson at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @thompsoncarolk.

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