A six-member panel signed off on a recommendation to extend Capitol security that increases the number of security guards and Minnesota State Troopers on the complex, but bears no mention of a weapons ban.
Though effectively killed in November, the gun ban was still a source of debate prior to the Advisory Committee on Capitol Area Security’s Thursday vote to sign off on the recommendation, which passed 4-2. A separate vote recommending that gun permit holders include their name, birthday and contact information when they provide notification that they’ll carry a gun into the Capitol passed 3-2 after Chief Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Lorie Gildea abstained in case the issue came before the court. The ultimate vote on whether to adopt the recommendations will be up to the Legislature.
The recommendations include:
- Increasing the number of Minnesota State Troopers assigned to the Capitol from eight to 12. Staffing costs per trooper are $120,000 annually.
- Increasing the number of non-sworn security officers from 40 to 67. Staffing costs for one Capitol Security Officer are $60,000 annually.
- Centralized security under the authority of the Department of Public Safety
- Clarifying notification requirements for gun permit holders on the Capitol Complex area.
Committee Chair, Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon, voted to back the recommendations, as did Gildea, Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria and Rep. Kelby Woodard, R-Belle Plaine. Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope and Rep. Michael Paymar, DFL-St. Paul, voted against it, although Paymar backed the separate provision involving notification by permit holders. Woodard opposed the same provision.
During the meeting, Paymar expressed his continued frustration with failed efforts to ban guns in the complex.
“I am concerned we did not address firearms. We tinkered around permit holders coming into the Capitol building, but quite frankly, and I have said before, I think we should be banning firearms from this building,” he said, adding that metal detectors should be installed. “People say nothing has happened yet and that’s the component that disturbs me.”
Ingebrigtsen, who opposes a weapons ban, urged Paymar and Rest to move forward with the recommendations. Rest said she would be voting no because she considered them inadequate.
“If you vote against it, you’re voting against making the Capitol safer,” Ingebrigtsen said.
“I do not want my vote characterized by those who oppose it.” Rest responded.
Jake Liefschultz, a member of the Minnesota Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, said despite some concerns about the potential cost, he’s pleased that legal permit holders will still be allowed to enter the building. A gun ban, he said, worries him on two fronts:
“One: that it’s directly impractical, and two as a matter of principle.” he said.