After ballpark ambush, security of State Capitol called into question
LANSING, Mich. (SINCLAIR BROADCAST GROUP) -- In the wake of the ballpark shooting in Alexandria, Virginia Wednesday morning, people are raising questions about safety at the State Capitol for lawmakers and your family.
At the Michigan Capitol building, you may carry a gun in the open - even on your waist - while you bring your gun inside the House Chamber Gallery where lawmakers work.
"You can't bring a sign in here to protest, but you can walk around with a gun," Democrat State Sen. Steve Bieda said.
When you arrive inside the State Capitol, there are no metal detectors and no security checkpoints like you see at an airport.
What you will find are 25-30 armed officers.
Despite the security presence at the Capitol, Sen. Bieda says it gives him pause when he sees people carrying their guns where state lawmakers work.
"I think we always have to be concerned with security issues," he said.
Especially now after several people in Alexandria were gunned down, including one Louisiana Congressman.
Bieda knew several people who were at the gruesome scene in Virginia.
"I'm glad there weren't any fatalities," he said.
Congressman Steve Scalise had security detail at the park in Virginia. It's luxury Michigan lawmakers don't have.
"The only security I get as a lawmaker is the firearm I might conceal on a day to day basis," Rep. Lee Chatfield said.
On any given day, Rep. Chatfield says there are about 15 lawmakers who conceal and carry guns on the State House floor.
"I encourage people to conceal carry, open carry, whatever they are comfortable with to ensure they can defend themselves and their families," he said.
But it's not just safety at the Capitol lawmakers have to worry about.
The House Office Building (HOB), houses many lawmakers offices and some committee rooms.
When you get inside, all you and I have to do is show ID, get a pass, and then you're on your way to visit with your lawmaker or sit in on a committee hearing.
"I do feel safe here at the Capitol," Chatfield said.
Although Chatfield sometimes carries a gun for self defense, Gov. Rick Snyder chooses not to open carry nor does he conceal and carry.
The Governor, though, does get a special security team at all times, according to Press Secretary Anna Heaton.
Unlike Gov. Snyder, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley does not get security detail every day.
If a lawmaker receives a threat, which has happened, the chief sergeant at arms reviews the threat and notifies Michigan State Police if the threat is legitimate.
While Michigan lawmakers hammer out the state budget, several Michigan lawmakers say it would be too costly to provide individual security for all of Michigan's 148 lawmakers in the House and Senate.