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Politics

After news of kidnapping plot, Democrats renew calls for a gun ban at the capitol

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After news that the FBI-thwarted an attempt to storm the Michigan capitol and take hostages - Michigan democrats are renewing calls to ban guns in the capitol building.

Concerns were raised in the spring when armed protestors entered the capitol during a protest against stay-at-home orders. Some of those protestors have since been identified as those charged in the plot to kidnap Whitmer.

The state’s capital commission last month declined to institute a gun ban leading democrats to introduce legislation - with little hope that it would pass into law.

Democratic State Senator Mallory McMorrow said it’s clear there need to be protections in place for lawmakers.

“I was pretty vocal about that then and I got a lot of blowback from people calling me a drama queen and a wimp,” she said. “And then you turnaround and see these were domestic terrorists. They were in our capitol building we let them in, we let them into our gallery, and they spent the last few months plotting to kidnap and potentially kill the governor and others.”

McMorrow said the idea that a gun ban isn’t possible for the capitol just doesn’t make sense - pointing out that the US Capitol bans firearms. At state capitols, gun rules appear spotty.

“I think the idea that it is impossible is asinine,” she said. “I’ve heard majority leader Shirkey say we can’t legislate all risk away. Which is absolutely true. But we can legislate some of it away. We did nothing to stop those men from coming into our building.”

A spokesperson for Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said discussions regarding the capitol firearm policy are “ongoing.”

Democrats have also called on state Republicans to tone down their rhetoric.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer, in an interview with CNN, called on state Republicans to “bring the heat down” on divisive rhetoric - and noted a connection between President Trump criticizing her and an increase in violent rhetoric online.

McMorrow said she’s frustrated by state Republicans who don’t seem willing to tone down their language even in the wake of the kidnapping plot.

“It was jarring to watch the Majority Leader, on one hand, give a speech on the Senate floor condemning this behavior and then turn around not a few hours later and go to a group of protestors outside in front of the Capitol and say that now is not the time to stop fighting against quote people who are trying to take our freedom.”

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey has condemned the men involved in the plot against Whitmer as “criminals and traitors.”

Shirkey’s spokesperson said in a written statement that he does not “condone violence, does not embrace violence, and has never advocated in support of violence.”

“Like many politicians, he has spoken out when he disagreed with policy,” the statement concluded.

But McMorrow said these types of statements aren’t enough - especially given Shirkey’s history of inflammatory statements about the governor.

“It is unacceptable for someone in a leadership position to try and have it both ways,” she said. “There haven’t been consequences for this type of rhetoric. It is going to take a radical shift of politics in the state to show that isn’t ok.”