Capitol Gun Debate in Lansing Intensifies Climate

State Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) says recent armed protestors makes her feel unsafe, but there are glimmers of bipartisanship appearing.

Between a Republican-led lawsuit against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, armed protesters in the Capitol and violent rhetoric online, Michiganders might think there’s not a whole lot of bipartisanship in Lansing right now.

“It is a very, very small group of people compared to the entire population of Michigan, but it’s threatening and it’s terrorism.” — State Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak)

Democratic State Senator Mallory McMorrow tells WDET’s Russ McNamara, that things are tense in the capital, but the two sides are still working together.

“I would certainly say the mood is tense, and I’m sympathetic. The longer that this goes on, the more people get stir crazy, and they’re at home and they want to see things change,” McMorrow says. “And, you know, I wish we could just snap our fingers and get things back to normal. But that’s not the case.”

McMorrow says a potential bipartisan supplemental bill could help

“We’ve got funding for first responders, additional funds for testing and [Personal Protection Equipment],” McMorrow says. “There’s there’s a lot of really good action in there to be able to take advantage of the over $3 billion that is sitting in the federal CARES Act funding.”

Click on the player above to hear State Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) on the supplemental bill and guns in the Capitol.


On feeling safe in the Capitol

“I’d be lying If I said I felt completely safe. And I know that that is the goal, right? When somebody comes dressed in full tactical gear carrying rifles, you know, I don’t see what the goal is, besides intimidation.”

On violent rhetoric being used on social media

“The last protest was concerning to me because we saw nooses and swastikas and Confederate flags and it was really hard to sift through that to see the messaging about people frustrated with with stay-home orders, it really felt like something much more dangerous. And if you’ve seen these protests organized around the country, they’re largely organized by militia groups who are doing these things to terrorize people. You know, it is a very, very small group of people compared to the entire population of Michigan, but it’s threatening and it’s terrorism. It’s domestic terrorism plain and simple.”

On a potential firearms ban in the Capitol Building

“Michigan is the only state in the Midwest that allows firearms in the Capitol with no regulations whatsoever. In the 2008 Heller case, [Supreme Court Justice] Antonin Scalia ruled that there is an exception to be made for sensitive places, like schools and government buildings. And I think it’s our responsibility as legislators to make sure that everybody in this building is safe, knowing that this is a place where it is tense, where debate happens, where the emotions run high. And there are schoolchildren who come through here fairly regularly. So I do think we need to put efforts in place to keep high powered firearms out of the Capitol and keep people safe.”

On how the rule to allow firearms in the Capitol could change

“The Senate and the House have the authority to set rules for their own chambers. So that means the majority leader can, if he decides to, right now decide that guns are not permissible within the chamber. He has the authority to do that. He can take action before something happens. We have introduced a resolution by Senator Dayna Polehanki to also not allow firearms within the Capitol and add security checkpoints. So far that hasn’t been taken up.”

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  • Russ McNamara
    Russ McNamara is the host of All Things Considered for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news to the station’s loyal listeners. He's been an avid listener of WDET since he moved to metro Detroit in 2002.