As the gun control debates in the Minnesota Legislature roll on, the state has revealed that more Minnesotans with handgun permits are bringing their guns into the Capitol building, The Associated Press reports.
While private businesses can post signs that forbid firearms on their premises, the Capitol has no such ban so long as the gun permit holder notifies the Minnesota Department of Pubic Safety in advance. Minnesota's Capitol is one of nine in the U.S. -- including Wisconsin -- that allows firearms in at least parts of the building.
According to the DPS, 150 permit holders between Jan. 18 and Feb. 22 notified the agency their intent to carry their guns on the Capitol complex, nearly triple the amount of the 56 people who made the request in all of 2012.
In total, 723 people have notified the DPS of their intent to carry their guns at the Capitol since the current permit law took effect in 2006.
At least one permit holder openly wore his gun at Friday's hearings, The AP reported, while another, who wears his gun everywhere, decided not to bring his gun with because he thought it could be seen as a provocative act, and ultimately, a distraction.
State permit holders aren't the only ones carrying guns at the Capitol. The AP said armed State Patrol officers have been posted at the House and Senate hearings, viewed as a rarity for legislative proceedings. One legislator, Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Good Thunder), has even said he's carried a gun at the Capitol.
At least one member of the state Senate expressed her displeasure with permit holders bringing their guns to the state Capitol.
Sen. Barb Goodwin, (D-Columbia Heights), who is also a Judiciary Committee member, said the Capitol "is a place where controversial decisions are made all the time" and that "emotions can run high."
Goodwin unsuccessfully tried in 2006 to legislate a ban on permit holders from carrying their guns at the Capitol. According to The AP, there are currently no measure to change the current gun-carrying rules at the Capitol.