The state Assembly has approved a policy that allows concealed weapons in areas under its control.
Under the rules adopted Thursday morning, permit holders will be able carry concealed on the Assembly floor, in the public viewing gallery, and in committee hearing rooms. Lawmakers will have the ability to post signs banning hidden guns from their offices.
Majority Leader Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) says 14 other states allow hidden guns in their Capitol buildings, and have not seen any real problems. He says citizens can be trusted to do the right thing, especially if they have gone through the process to obtain a concealed carry permit.
The policy was amended to clarify that only concealed weapons are permitted, after Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) raised concerns that the original version could allow people to carry in rifles or shotguns.
Barca also offered an amendment to allow signs in the gallery. Several protesters have been removed recently for violating that rule and Barca argued that the First Amendment to the Constitution should be just as important as the Second. Republicans rejected the change, but said they are willing to consider the issue on its own at a later date.
The state Senate approved a policy earlier this week that allows concealed carry on the chamber floor and in committee hearings, but bans hidden guns from its public viewing galleries. Concealed carry is allowed in most other areas of the state Capitol building.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:04)