Security questions swirl at the Wisconsin Capitol after armed man sought governor twice in one day

A man walks by the Wisconsin Capitol IN 2012 in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Scott Bauer, File)

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin’s Capitol building is one of the most open in the country, which made it easy for a man to walk inside with a loaded handgun this week in search of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.

The man was arrested for illegally openly carrying a weapon, but after posting bail, he returned outside the Capitol that same night with an AK-style semi-automatic rifle. He was placed in protective custody. As of Friday, no charges had been filed.

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The episode is once again putting a spotlight on security at the state Capitol, a building that has its own police force but is not protected by metal detectors, screening checkpoints or X-rays. Anyone can walk in off the street between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. during the week and go straight to the offices of state lawmakers and others.

While concealed weapons are allowed in the building, firearms cannot be openly carried. An Evers administration spokesperson said the man’s handgun was in a holster.

Both the governor and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, the state’s top Republican, expressed opposition Friday to adding metal detectors. Evers told Wisconsin Watch that restricting access to the building or requiring people to go through security screening would “be the last thing I want to do.”

Vos, reacting on social media, agreed.

“The Capitol Police did their job and we should not restrict the ability of the public to access their elected officials and the State Capitol beyond what we do now,” Vos said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The Wisconsin Capitol is one of 13 state capitols that does not have either metal detectors or X-ray machines.

The governor’s office is guarded by a Capitol police officer. That’s where the armed man headed Wednesday, demanding to see the governor to talk about “domestic abuse towards men,” according to police.

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