ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Hundreds of people visit the State Capitol every day. What’s impossible to know is how many are carrying a concealed weapon.

New state figures reveal that hundreds of legally armed Minnesotans have notified the Department of Public Safety to say they are carrying a concealed weapon at the State Capitol complex, including the Capitol building itself.

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Since 2006, 573 people notified the state they would carry concealed weapons at the Capitol complex, where thousands of people work and visit.

In 2012, 56 people declared their weapons. The law forbids the state from revealing who they are: lawmakers, staffers, or visitors. And gun rights supporters say it makes the Capitol safer.

Representative Tony Cornish, a retired police chief, says the emotion and unpredictability of the legislative session make it essential that gun holders remain anonymous.

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“You wouldn’t believe the whacks that come into this place,” Cornish said. “The most effective protection you have is when people don’t know you are armed.”

Minnesota law gives legal permit holders the right to carry a concealed weapon anywhere inside the Capitol, even in the galleries of the House and Senate – and even when the legislature is in session.

Minnesota gun laws allow citizens to carry at the State Capitol complex only if they’ve completed a required gun safety training course.

All that permit holders need to do is notify the Public Safety Commissioner that they’ll be packing.

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That’s Reality Check.