Weapons at the State Capitol, an issue that gains more attention when gun-violence measures are on the agenda, is to be discussed by an advisory committee this week.
The Advisory Committee on Capitol Security, which has been studying a range of issues related to keeping the Capitol grounds safe, will hear a presentation on current law and policies regarding weapons in the Capitol complex.
The presentation will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday in Room 109 of the State Capitol. The following week, at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 20, members of the public will be allowed to comment on the issue. Those who wish to comment next week are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A spokesman for Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon, who chairs the advisory committee, said the discussion is part of a wide-ranging review of Capitol security.
Currently, any of the more than 150,000 Minnesotans who have legal permits to carry loaded weapons in public can do so at the Capitol if they notify police authorities. Names of those who notify police are classified as private under state law. Weapons do not have to be concealed.
After the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting on Dec. 14, when the DFL-controlled Minnesota Legislature began considering measures to attempt to curtail gun violence, the number of notifications of the intent to carry weapons at the Capitol spiked.
A total of 148 notifications were filed in the first month of DFL control last winter, compared to 56 filed in all of the previous year, when the gun-friendly GOP was in control of the Legislature. There were no incidents with the weaponry, which some gun-rights activists talked about or displayed openly at the committee hearings.
A local gun-rights organization, the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, has put out the call to members to return to the Capitol for Wednesday's meeting. "The usual gun-grabbers hope to restrict your right to carry at the Capitol, and other St. Paul state government buildings," the group said in a statement on its website. "It is important that we fill the room at both meetings with law-abiding gun owners, and nip in the bud any efforts at restricting your rights."
In addition to the lieutenant governor, members include: Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea, Court Administrator Jeff Shorba, Sens. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, and Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope; and Reps. Kelby Woodard, R-Belle Plaine, and Michael Paymar, DFL-St. Paul.
Rep. Woodard said the committee is advisory only, meaning it only has the power to recommend changes for the full Legislature to consider. He suspects there might be an attempt to limit the ability to legally carry weapons in the Capitol, and also discussion of whether the current notification system is needed for legal permit-holders.
Anthony Triemert of Brooklyn Park carrying 9 mm Ruger into Capitol gun hearing in February