Lansing — An Upper Peninsula lawmaker known for his Second Amendment advocacy had two firearms stolen from his Lansing home over the weekend.
One of the firearms is the same one Rep. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain, brought to the House of Representatives Jan. 29 ahead of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s State of the State address.
LaFave posed with the pistol outside the House chambers shortly before the governor’s address and posted the photo on Twitter, with the message:
“I open carried in the capital (sic) today to protest Governor Whitmer’s proposed unconstitutional gun laws. If she wants to disarm law-abiding Michiganders, she can start with me on the House Floor. Tonight is the Michigan State of the State. #SOSmiSOTS”
LaFave discovered the alleged burglary when he returned to his Old Town Lansing residence Monday afternoon and found the front door damaged and firearms missing, said Robert Merritt, public information officer for the Lansing Police Department.
A detective has been assigned to the case and the investigation is “trending in a positive direction,” Merritt said. The burglary was first reported by the Michigan Information & Research Service Inc.
Twenty-five dollars in cash, a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson and the AR-style pistol LaFave posed with outside the House chambers were among items stolen from the home, LaFave said.
Both firearms were loaded and hidden within the home and the front door was dead-bolted, he said. The firearms were not stored in a safe.
“I didn’t leave them lying on the counter so anybody casing the joint could see it at the time,” LaFave said. “To require any gun owner in the state of Michigan to do anything more than that would be an infringement of their constitutional rights.”
All the same, LaFave said he hopes the weapons are found soon and is concerned that they would be used in a violent crime.
“If I never see them again that’s fine, but I just hope they throw them in the Red Cedar River,” he said. “I will still feel awful and I will feel guilty if someone’s hurt.”
The theft of LaFave’s firearms rankled some of his Democratic constituents, who issued a press release Wednesday alleging the representative’s storage choices and public display of his firearms made him a “target.”
“Openly carrying a weapon in a public place and/or making a public spectacle is not considered wise nor responsible gun ownership,” said Mari Negro, chairwoman for the Menominee County Democratic Party and the communications chair of the 906 Dems. “Taunting folks and challenging them to ‘come and take it’ as did Representative Beau LaFave is a very dangerous and immature action.”
The criticism from Negro was akin to victim blaming, LaFave said.
“I’m a big boy and can handle it, but I will be extremely upset if the Democrats continue to blame victims of crime for what happened to them,” he said.
LaFave has brought firearms on the House floor in the past, both concealed and open carry. He did not bring the AR-style rifle on the House floor the day of the State of the State.
The Capitol building and other legislative offices are not pistol-free zones and it's not unusual for legislators to conceal carry or open carry on days celebrating the Second Amendment or when controversial gun legislation is being consider, said Rep. Triston Cole, the Mancelona Republican who serves as House floor leader.
But just because it’s legal to open carry on the House floor doesn’t make it right in every circumstance, Cole said. The floor leader asked LaFave to reconsider carrying his pistol at the State of the State and LaFave agreed, instead posing with the weapon outside the House chambers.