OKLAHOMA CITY -- Leaders in the Oklahoma House are dramatically ramping up security at the state Capitol less than a year after thousands of teachers demonstrated peacefully for increased education funding.
House leaders have erected guard stations in hallways, banned public access to stairwells and hired an ex-police officer licensed to carry a gun inside the Capitol.
Passing through a public entrance into the building already requires going through metal detectors.
House Speaker Charles McCall denied the new security measures were prompted by the teacher walkout. He says they are aimed at enhancing the public's experience at the Capitol.
Several House members said they were caught off guard by the changes.
Democratic Rep. Forrest Bennett expressed particular concern about blocking access to stairwells and called the changes "ridiculous."