A rainy day didn’t stop dozens of gun owners and Second Amendment supporters from taking part in this year’s Second Amendment March in Lansing, Michigan on Thursday, but a new policy enacted by lawmakers did prevent them from exercising their Second Amendment rights inside the state capitol.
Back in August, the state’s Capitol Commission voted to make the capitol complex a “gun-free zone”, though current legislators with concealed carry permits were grandfathered in. The general public, as well as legislative and administrative staff, on the other hand, are now barred from carrying in the capitol. While the petty move was a topic of discussion on Thursday, organizers and attendees spent most of their time focused on the new gun control laws approved by the legislature that impact the rights of gun owners throughout the state.
“We just want legislators to know the Second Amendment is still vital,” said Second Amendment March Vice President Brian Jeffs. “We still have people, even on this rainy, crappy day, we’ve got a lot of people here that are upset with how things are going.”
Jeffs said the rally first convened in 2010, but this year’s event comes at a time when both state and federal legislatures are passing laws for gun reform. Only a few months prior to the rally, Michigan lawmakers passed a series of red flag laws, with bills written to keep guns away from those at risk of harming themselves or others.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the bills back in May, saying they’re “a proactive way to prevent mass shootings, suicides and other forms of gun violence.” Those laws will go into effect in the spring of 2024. While they received support from both sides of the aisle, Second Amendment ralliers like Adam Besso believe they go against a person’s right to defend themselves.
“Shall not be infringed, there’s not a whole lot of different ways you can explain what that means,” Besso said. “It is what it is, and there’s no evidence that having less guns has ever made anyone safer.”
State representatives, advocates for gun ownership and members of law enforcement all had a turn at the podium to share their words of encouragement with those in the crowd. Some speakers shared a promise to try and have gun reform laws removed, an effort that Second Amendment defense attorney Jim Makowski said is already underway.
“We’re getting ready to file several suits in federal court to try to block these clearly unconstitutional, unlawful edicts coming out of Lansing,” he said.
“Red flag” laws are already the subject of several lawsuits around the country, so 2A activists in Michigan can point to some of the problems that have already been identified in states like New York, where multiple judges have ruled that the Extreme Risk Protection Order statute is unconstitutional. And in Maryland, the Second Amendment Foundation and an individual plaintiff have filed suit alleging a government official weaponized the state’s “red flag” law as retaliation in a long-running dispute over the appearance of his property.
I’m glad to see that the rainy weather didn’t dampen the spirits or enthusiasm of the Second Amendment advocates who turned out in Lansing on Thursday. Jeffs is absolutely right that the Second Amendment is still vital, and as my colleague Ranjit Singh recently detailed, the state’s gun control regime is causing immeasurable harm on a daily basis. It’s not just the capitol gun ban or the state’s “red flag” laws that need a legal challenge, but that’s a good place to start.