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Michigan lawmaker defends photo of loaded magazines in post on protests

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

A Republican state lawmaker posted a photo Saturday of loaded firearm magazines and implied he was preparing for the civil unrest associated with police brutality protests.

Rep. Gary Eisen, R-St. Clair Township, said in a social media post that a client came into his welding shop and alleged many individuals participating in protests and riots across the state and nation were “liberals” because “liberals look for trouble and civil unrest and Conservatives PREPARE for it.”

“hmm ,, so I thought maybe I will load up a few more mags….” Eisen wrote on Facebook with a photo of eight magazines and target ammunition.  

A screenshot of Rep. Gary Eisen's post on Facebook Saturday, May 30, 2020.

Eisen said Tuesday the Facebook post was meant to be sarcastic and people who are upset by the post were attempting to “make something out of nothing.”

Eisen, a firearms instructor and martial artist, said he’s “behind the protests, but not behind the violence.” 

“I’m not threatening anybody,” he said. “I’m just saying I have the right to go in my house and protect myself.”

The online post dredged up words of censure and support from area residents in the days after it was written. 

Jim Soto said his first thought upon reading the post was "Is he threatening me?"

The Port Huron resident is not in Eisen's district but said the post was upsetting all the same. Short of resignation, Soto called for the state House leadership to censure Eisen for the post. 

"He should resign," Soto said. "There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it. This isn’t a joke.”

eleblanc@detroitnews.com