When visitors enter the Legislative Office Building Monday they will be asked to do something unusual—go through a metal detector.
The Capitol police have decided to station two metal detectors at the west entrance of the building for a legislative hearing on gun control, which is expects to draw hundreds.
The decision was made by Capitol Police Chief Walter Lee on Friday.
Senate Minority Leader John McKinney said the idea of installing the metal detectors for Monday’s hearing was discussed by the staff for legislative leaders in both parties.
“I was not in favor of installing them, but I’m not a security expert,” McKinney said Saturday. “We are relying on the expertise of Chief lee who believes he needs to do it.”
The two portable metal detectors, which have been in storage for two years, have been installed at the west entrance of the Legislative Office Building.
“As far as Senator Williams and Senator Looney are concerned, they believe that Chief should be able to implement security precautions that he sees fit to make,” Adam Joseph, a spokesman for Sen. President Donald Williams, said Saturday.
McKinney speculated that Monday’s hearing would be the largest of the four public hearings held by the bipartisan legislative committed and will attract hundreds of people.
As of Sunday afternoon, more than 500 people have already submitted testimony.
The idea of installing metal detectors on a more permanent basis has been floated as an idea by Rep . Ernest Hewett, D-New London.
Earlier this month, Hewett said the proposal to install metal detectors is not a commentary in any way on the demeanor or character of gun owners. He said he just wants to make sure that the worst that can happen in the building is a fist fight.
“If someone can kill 20 kids, then they won’t think twice about killing 20 legislators,” Hewett has said.
Last weekend, 1,000 gun enthusiasts turned out for a rally outside the state Capitol. Some of them carried their guns.
Carrying a gun on the grounds of the state Capitol is allowed, but bringing a gun into the state Capitol or the Legislative Office Building is prohibited.
Connecticut, like a majority of states, doesn’t have metal detectors installed at the state Capitol or Legislative Office Building, where most of their business is conducted.
According to the National Conference of State Legislators, there are metal detectors installed at 23 state Capitols, including those in New York and Massachusetts.
Some state Capitols screen all visitors with the metal detectors, while some — like California — exempt state employees and legislators.