Michiganders gathered in the capital city of Lansing on Wednesday to show their support for the right to keep and bear arms. The seventh annual Second Amendment March, organized by a group of gun rights activists in conjunction with Michigan Gun Owners and Michigan Open Carry featured a variety of speakers, including Lt. Governor Brian Calley and Marcus Weldon. Weldon became a gun rights activist and was involved in a defensive gun use when two men attacked Weldon’s female coworker at a Detroit gas station during Christmas 2014.
Marcus spoke about his experience with the legal system, and has a book coming out soon about his experiences going through the not-so-tender mercies of the Detroit justice system after the shooting.
The march around the Capitol and Supreme Court, which included a large number of Michiganders of all backgrounds and ages, was a remarkably quiet, well-behaved affair. Perhaps that’s not surprising.
Many of the people were openly carrying pistols, rifles, and other firearms. Speaking softly but carrying big sticks seemed to be the order of the day. There was no need to showboat. Some of the attendees brought their children, one running ahead of the line as he spied a short-cut, his father running after him laughing.
Most of the people I spoke to were generally supportive of typical gun rights issues such as constitutional carry and national reciprocity. Attendees also appeared to be optimistic about the Trump Administration, although a few thought that Michgan’s Governor, Republican Rick Snyder, was indifferent to the cause of gun rights.
Governor Snyder has a mixed record, having signed concealed carry licensing legislation that was supported by gun rights activists, but he also fought efforts to allow licensees to carry concealed firearms into schools. (Law-abiding Michiganders may openly carry a firearm into schools.)
A good number of people showed up for the march — especially considering that the rally was held on a weekday afternoon, and on the same week that many gun rights activists are getting ready to head to the NRA Convention in Atlanta.
Kevin Schneider, a firearms trainer from Kalamazoo, and a regular attendee of the marches, remarked that attendance was lower than in 2016. “I’d say it’s down at least a third.” Some of last year’s attendees may have stayed home, Schneider suggested, because gun owners aren’t as worried about their rights after the defeat of Hillary Clinton last year.
Schneider supported Trump in that election, although he had originally backed Ted Cruz during the GOP primaries. Despite his support for the conservative stalwart from Texas, Schneider remarked, “I think lots of people don’t really think of themselves as conservatives. They just want to be regular Americans and not have to worry about gun rights. I don’t know if I’m really a conservative.”
“You’re a constitutionalist!” interjected John Andrassi, another firearms trainer and activist.
The rally included a panel of attorneys including Michigan firearms law attorneys Dean Greenblatt, Terry Johnson and Jim Makowski. They fielded questions from the audience on everything up to and including the use of flying armed drones (for the record, the FAA frowns on such things.)
Overall, the demonstrators appeared to leave a good impression as they rallied and calmly walked down the sidewalks of the capital (careful to wait for the pedestrian signals before crossing.)
A young, hipster-ish fellow with a coffee cart across the street volunteered that the demonstrators were all incredibly well-behaved. Although generally disclaiming interest in guns, he commented: “I see a lot of open carry going on, but everyone’s very responsible about it, which is cool. If they’re not hurting anyone, it’s their right.”