By Lia Kananipuamaeole Kamana and Gabriela Saldivia
Ingham County Chronicle staff writers
LANSING—Controversy brewed the weekend of Feb. 22-24, at the Michigan Republican Convention when a group called Campaign for Liberty was asked to leave the Lansing Center because they were openly carrying weapons.
“I’m very surprised that there was absolutely no defense from the Republican Party when the security guard was telling us we had to remove our side arms,” said Tony Demott, director of Michigan’s Campaign for Liberty.
“You would think that (the Republican Party) would be supportive of the second Amendment,” DeMott said. “ You would think they would be supportive of their members. The folks that show up here for the most part are pretty hard-core party activists. You have people coming here to participate in the political process. These are typically not people who would shoot up a room.”
There was confusion regarding who was responsible for the ban of guns from the convention. Security guards from the Lansing Center approached two different groups on Saturday and told them they had to leave the building if they had firearms.
The Lansing center, at 333 E. Michigan Ave., is a public place, which is why DeMott was confused when security personnel approached him.
According to the Michigan Constitution, “every person has a right to keep and bear arms for the defense of himself and the state.” Also, in 1991, Michigan enacted a law that states that the Michigan Constitution and state statutes control firearms in Michigan and no city, township or county can make its own laws.
President and CEO of Lansing Entertainment and Public Facilities Authority Scott Keith said guns are not allowed at the center because of the liquor license it have, which is mandated by Michigan law.
“They complied and were respectful.” Keith said. “We apply that to all events. We just want everyone to be safe.”
Matt Frendeway, communications director of the the Michigan Republican Party, said they were aware of the rule regarding guns upon signing the contract with the Lansing Center.
“We have to take a lot of issues into account when we plan a convention.” Frendeway said. “There are only so many locations in the state that can provide the amount of space needed. In this instance, the Lansing Center was pretty adamant that their policy be enforced. When we enter a contract with someone we will obey their policy.”
Frendeway said they respected the Lansing centers policys but do not necessairly share the same views on the issue.
“We will take the incident into account for future events and we will have a conversation with those who were involved,” Frendeway said.