Rep. Kara Hope (D-67-Holt) is protesting an order that she remove a sign from her office declaring it “gun-free.”
Hope said she placed the sign in her doorway in the House Office Building on September 10, when gun rights activists rallied with pistols and rifles in the Michigan Capitol in support of Second Amendment Day, according to The Detroit News.
She said that the sign was designed to promote a feeling of safety and constituents with firearms could reach her in other ways. Although she was told to take the sign down the same day, Hope said she would only do so if she had the directive in writing from the Speaker of the House.
The letter, which came from Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield (R-107-Levering) on Wednesday, assured Hope that while threats to her or her employees would be taken seriously, a blanket ban on guns in her office was unauthorized.
Concealed firearms are banned from certain places — including schools, courts, stadiums and casinos — but are not banned from government property.
“The Speaker is forcing me to sacrifice the First Amendment rights of any constituent looking to enter my office and speak with their elected representative in an environment where they feel safe, and that is not something I should be asked to do,” Hope said in a statement on Wednesday. “The sign was simply there in an effort to ensure the safety of anyone in my office on September 10, the day of the Second Amendment rally.”
Chatfield did not respond to a request for comment.
“Michigan residents have a constitutional right to petition their representatives,” Gideon D’Assandro, a spokesman for Chatfield told The Detroit News. “Legislators legally cannot place categorical restrictions on that right, including for citizens exercising other constitutional rights.”
Hope said that she conceded to Chatfield’s request, but not before alluding to the speaker’s stumble with the federal Transportation Security Administration when he accidentally carried a loaded, unregistered handgun into a Michigan airport last year.
The House Speaker apologized and paid the related fines.
“Given his history, I know Speaker Chatfield has a very casual, even careless attitude toward guns, but I do not share that attitude,” Hope said. “Yet because the Speaker is the person who ultimately controls our office allotment — and therefore the resources I am able to use to serve my constituents — I feel as though I have no choice but to adhere to his demand.”
Hope recently introduced a bill in early June that would require anyone who is renting a firearm to be legally allowed to own one.
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with Battleground State News and The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]