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Metal detectors, and firearms ban, returning to the Missouri Capitol

portable metal detector
Reyham Dhuny | Flickr

The Missouri Capitol is restoring security procedures, and metal detectors, that have not been in place at the complex for almost 14 years.

As of  Tuesday, most visitors to the Missouri Capitol – including journalists and lobbyists – will be subject to security searches and be required to go through metal detectors. The new procedures won’t apply to elected officials.

The number of entrances open to the public will be largely limited to those where security equipment and police are present. According to the statement by the Capitol Police, visitors will be barred from bringing in firearms, along with other weapons, including knives with blades longer than four inches.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as of 2015, at least 28 state capitols had metal detectors.

Tuesday is the first full day when new Gov. Eric Greitens will be in office. Greitens is among five statewide officials, all Republicans, who are sworn into office on Monday.

The governor’s administration oversees general operations at the Capitol, although the General Assembly often has weighed in.

That was the case in 2003, when the Capitol’s security checkpoints, including metal detectors, were removed during a budget battle between Republican legislative leaders and then-Gov. Bob Holden, a Democrat. The security procedures had been in place since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

At the time, then-House Speaker Catherine Hanaway said the security wasn’t necessary, especially since police regularly roam the building. Some lawmakers also have opposed added security, believing that it’s inappropriate to bar the public from carrying firearms or other weapons into the Capitol.

The issue of more security has been periodically revisited over the years, and have prompted the installation of more security cameras throughout the Capitol.

Greitens’ transition office has yet to comment on the security changes.

St. Louis City Hall and the St. Louis County Government Center have had metal detectors in place for years.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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