Capital Closeup: States vary on gun rules in capitol buildings
When Minnesota legislators opened hearings on a series of gun control proposals in February, interested onlookers packed committee hearings.
And some of those in attendance were likely packing heat.
Minnesota is one of three states in the region that allows guns to be carried inside its capitol building, according to a CSG Midwest survey of state police and capitol security.
In Minnesota, an individual must have a permit to carry a weapon and notify the state’s Department of Public Safety in advance. During the first two months of this year, as the Legislature prepared to consider new gun laws, the agency had received 250 such notifications — quadruple the usual number for an entire year.
Michigan and Wisconsin are the other two states where citizens can carry guns in the capitol.
Wisconsin’s policies are relatively new — the result of legislation passed in 2011 allowing individuals to carry concealed weapons. (Every state but Illinois now provides concealed-carry permits).
Guns are allowed inside the Wisconsin Capitol, but can be restricted in certain areas. State Assembly and Senate committees developed the firearms rules for their respective chambers. The Assembly allows guns on the chamber floor and in the gallery; the Senate permits guns on the floor but not in the gallery.
Wisconsin legislators can also post signs designating their Capitol offices as gun-free zones.
Capital Closeup is an ongoing series of articles done by CSG Midwest highlighting institutional issues in state government and legislatures.