Michigan Capitol to scan for guns, boost security by September
- Metal detectors could be installed at Capitol entrances by September
- The Capitol Commission plans to buy X-ray machines, detection wands for additional security
- The decision comes three years after armed militia members flooded the chambers in protest of COVID-19 rules
LANSING — Visitors to the Michigan State Capitol will be scanned for weapons as soon as September, according to the Michigan State Capitol Commission.
The commission has purchased “pass-through” firearm detectors to set up at building entrances, said commission executive director Rob Blackshaw during the Monday meeting. The group is also working on buying X-ray scanners for bags and metal detection wands for security guards, he said.
Commission members voted unanimously in March to develop a plan to prohibit visitors from carrying firearms in the Capitol. In 2021, commissioners voted to ban openly carrying firearms in the Capitol, but those with a concealed carry permit can still bring in guns.
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The March decision came three years after armed militia members carried rifles in legislative chambers and heckled lawmakers to protest COVID-19 rules. The rules came weeks after three students were killed during a mass shooting at Michigan State University in East Lansing.
“I (am) really sorry that we have to do this and lock the building down and put all this equipment in the building,” Commission Chair William Kandler said on Monday. “It’s really a shame, but I think the reality of the world today … you can’t ignore it.”
The commission expects to receive the firearm detectors in eight weeks and hopes to install the equipment before legislators return from their summer recess, which ends in September.
The security is expected to be in place by the time school groups return en masse to the Capitol for field trips in the fall.
The commission is also planning to buy six metal detection wands and “a couple of” X-ray scanners to detect for weapons in addition to the detectors at the entrances, Blackshaw said.
Capitol security will also ask all contractors, such as elevator inspectors, to provide a roster of employees who need to enter the Capitol building.
“That’s going to be a lot more vigorous, or we can even deny access depending on who it is,” Blackshaw said. “It’s just trying to take that extra step to increase our security and to make sure no one slips in behind the scene.”
Additionally, the commission is considering a “proactive gun detection” software, which can connect to surveillance cameras and identify people who brandish their guns and alert security.
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