Second Amendment march returns to Capitol amid new limits on open carry

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Lansing — Gun rights advocates gathered outside the Capitol Thursday for an annual Second Amendment rally that occurred under novel circumstances this year. 

Amid cold, wind and rain, individuals were not allowed inside the Capitol while openly carrying their weapons — a new policy that advocates said they plan to challenge. 

Open carry advocates could be filing a challenge in the next six months of the open carry ban implemented in January by the Michigan State Capitol Commission, said Skip Coryell, founder of Thursday's Second Amendment March.

Coryell said the ban is unconstitutional and believes it was a reactionary measure to individuals who intimidated state legislators during an April 30, 2020 pandemic protest, when several people taunted lawmakers from the Senate gallery while fully armed and attempted to gain access to the House floor.

"They abused their Second Amendment rights," Coryell said. "That's the way gun legislation works. Anti-gun laws — you have one person who abuses their right, does something wrong and then they'll pass something against them. Who suffers? Everyone who obeys the law."

Gun rights advocates gather outside the Michigan Capitol on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, for the Second Amendment March.

As of late Thursday morning, none of the participants had attempted to enter the Capitol while openly carrying, said Michigan State Police First Lt. Darren Green. 

Organizers on Thursday touted their success last November in blocking a directive from Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson that would have banned the open carry of firearms at polling locations. 

"There's never been an incident at the polling places here in Michigan," said Brenden Boudreau of Great Lakes Gun Rights. "...It's government officials taking advantage of instances to push an agenda. They're not even going through the Legislature. They're doing it dishonestly through executive fiat."

Other advocates criticized Michigan's permitting rules for concealed carry, which they said are some of the most burdensome in the nation. 

Joe and Faith O'Brien of Grand Rapids attended Thursday to show support for gun rights and make sure state leaders understand their opposition to legislation limiting those freedoms. 

"It's something that supports all of the rest of our rights," Joe O'Brien said. "It's an important right that's kind of unique to our country."