Bob Zawadzki of Clinton Township, works the grill on Saturday during a open carry picnic at William G. Milliken State Park on the Detroit riverfront. (Steve Perez / The Detroit News)
Detroit— Gun rights activists hosted an open-carry picnic Saturday at Milliken State Park along the riverfront to stress the importance of carrying firearms for self-defense.
“It’s just like any other picnic. The only thing that separates us is that the vast majority of us are open carrying our firearms,” said Patrick Dunbar, the southeast regional coordinator for Michigan Open Carry.
Around 85 men, women and children attended the picnic at the state park along the river walk. Most were carrying holstered pistols at their hips while they enjoyed a grilled hot dog lunch and pop.
Dunbar said people were encouraged to carry only the firearms they would use to protect themselves.
“There’s nothing here that would alarm people,” he said.
There were no protest groups present at around 1:30 p.m., although similar events previously have drawn crowds.
Dave Dellinger, a board member with Michigan Gun Owners, urged those at the picnic to call their legislators to change the laws limiting guns.
“We need to get rid of pistol-free zones,” he said. “The first place a criminal is going to go is where they know there won’t be any guns.”
Tom Lambert of Kentwood, near Grand Rapids, said it is important for gun owners to carry in public to change perceptions.
“We’re not the crazy people up on a hill in a cabin; we’re the everyday people,” he said. “Every time somebody responsibly open carries in public you keep chipping away at all the lies from the other side.”