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Question of the Month ~ August 2016

 

Q. What policies do Midwestern states have regarding the carrying of concealed firearms into capitols by the public and legislators?

Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin allow concealed carry by members of the public and legislators in their respective state capitols. In Nebraska, concealed carry is not permitted, but there is no prohibition on visitors openly carrying weapons.
Legislators in Indiana and Iowa can carry concealed firearms in their states’ capitol buildings, but the public cannot. (Iowa’s administrative rules, which govern the use of the Capitol building and grounds, do not expressly prohibit legislators from bringing in firearms.)
In Wisconsin, each chamber of the bicameral legislature establishes its own rules regarding firearms. Under the rules of the state Assembly, the public is allowed to carry concealed weapons in any space within the Capitol that is assigned to the Assembly or its members. In the Senate, firearms are prohibited in the gallery, and each Wisconsin legislator is responsible for determining policy for his or her own office. Members who want to prohibit firearms can post a sign to that effect near the entrance to their office.
South Dakota was the most recent state to consider a law permitting concealed firearms in the Capitol. Under HB 1129, people holding enhanced firearms permits (which require background checks and firearms training) could have brought their weapons into the Capitol. This legislation passed the House this year but stalled in the South Dakota Senate.
In 2015, a bill was considered in North Dakota (HB 1157) to allow public officials to carry guns in the Capitol, but it failed to pass. Legislation introduced in Michigan earlier this year (HB 5563) would prohibit the carrying of a concealed pistol in state-owned and -leased buildings. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee in mid- April, but no hearings had been held as of August.
Many of the state statutes or rules governing weapons in public buildings make exceptions for peace officers and active members of the military. Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas and Ohio require visitors to walk through metal detectors before entering their state capitols.

 

Article written by Ilene Grossman, CSG Midwest assistant director. Question of the Month highlights a research inquiry received by CSG Midwest.