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Fox News commentator Sean Hannity criticizes armed Michigan protesters

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Fox News commentator Sean Hannity blasted on Monday protesters who openly carried guns during a demonstration last week in Michigan against COVID-19 restrictions.

Hannity, a conservative TV and radio host, said a "show of force" is dangerous and people shouldn't intend to intimidate officials.

“God forbid something happens, then they’re going to go after all of us law-abiding Second Amendment people," said Hannity, who added that he agreed with the protesters' message about reopening the economy.

Sean Hannity, Fox News commentator, discusses the Thursday protest in Michigan during his show on Monday.

He made the comments during his nightly show on Fox News Monday night, four days after hundreds of protesters gathered at the Michigan Capitol to rally against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home order that's meant to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The demonstration has spurred a debate over whether Michigan should continue to allow guns inside its Capitol building. It's also drawn criticism because some of the protesters openly carried firearms. At one point, a few of them stood in the gallery above the Michigan Senate with their weapons as lawmakers convened below.

Hannity called the openly carried weapons a "distraction."

"No one is a bigger defender of the Second Amendment than yours truly," Hannity said. "Everyone has the right to protest, protect themselves and try to get the country open. This, with the militia look here and these long guns, no. Show of force is dangerous. That puts our police at risk and by the way, your message will never be heard, whoever you people are."

But Dan Bongino, a conservative commentator who was a guest on Hannity's show, pushed back, arguing that the "liberal media" was attempting to paint the demonstrators as a "crazed bunch of lunatics."

"Of course, they're fed up. They have to feed their kids," Bongino said of the protesters. "They're being put out of business by people acting like despotic tyrants."

One of the demonstrators on Thursday, John Parkinson, 47, of Macomb Township, defended the protesters who carried weapons during the event.

Armed men weapons in the Senate gallery on Thursday, April 30.

"It is our constitutional right," he said. "It is not that we are trying to say, 'Look at me. Look at me.' This is what we do. This is how we do things. This is our way of life. I openly carry my handgun daily."

Some Michigan officials, including Republicans, have criticized the Thursday demonstration.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, said many people protested "safely and responsibly" but several others used "intimidation and the threat of physical harm to stir up fear and feed rancor."

"Their actions hurt their cause and steal from the rights of others by creating an environment where responsible citizens do not feel safe enough to express themselves," Shirkey said.

cmauger@detroitnews.com