Talks continue between Republican leaders on banning guns at Michigan capitol building

Calls to ban guns at the state capitol have grown louder over the last week after the foiled plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the fact that two of the suspects charged in the plot were seen on capitol grounds with guns earlier this year

As it stands right now, two Republican leaders are expected to make a decision after the election.

Since last April, following a legal open-carry gun rally at the state capitol, many legislative Democrats have been demanding that the GOP leadership ban weapons in the building to prevent demonstrators from pointing their weapons from the gallery at lawmakers below. 

"So they have someone at a high ground position above you with a semi-automatic weapon - I don't think anybody wants that in in the workplace," said State Rep. Rebekah Warren (D) Ann Arbor. 

The two GOP legislative leaders have heard these remarks and are now involved in an "ongoing conversation" on what to do about weapons in the people's house. The House Speaker Rep. Lee Chatfield says very productive talks are underway.

Two weeks ago the two leaders met privately with two members of the state capitol commission and it was decided to delay a decision until after the November election.  

Is it possible the Republican leaders don't want to restrict guns in the building before the election out of fear that the gun lobby would vote some Republicans out of office for doing that?

"I think it's a little disingenuous to say that this is a campaign issue on why it is not getting done or isn't getting done right now. We're still at the table," said Rep. Chatfield said. 

The speaker and Senate leader could have said they would do nothing, but instead they are talking with two objectives in mind.

"There has to be some common-sense policies that we can adopt to ensure people are kept safe and people's rights are protected. We are diligently searching right now to find that policy," Rep Chatfield said. 

The Democratic Lt. Governor who presides over the state Senate makes this point.

"There is no place for semi-automatic weapons in the Michigan capitol or frankly in the law-making process. The only reason you have it is to intimidate lawmakers," Garlin Gilchrist said. 

When asked his thoughts about banning open carry but still allowing concealed weapons, Lt. Gov. Gilchrist responded, "I would still say, why do you need a gun in the Michigan capitol?"

There is speculation that the GOP leaders may ban open carry in the capitol and put the state police in charge of keeping the weapons out. That, however, would still allow concealed weapons in the building.