Hundreds of protestors are expected to gather in Lansing, Michigan on Thursday in opposition to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order, but organizers say that they’re not encouraging any attendees to carry firearms. A protest early last week saw dozens of armed protestors, angry legislators on both sides of the aisle, and a push from the governor and several lawmakers to ban the carrying of firearms in the capitol building.
On Monday, the Michigan State Capitol Commission voted to form a committee to study the issue of banning firearms at the state capitol itself, but for now the carrying of firearms is still legal, and undoubtably some of the protestors on Thursday will be armed. Erica Pettinaro, one of the co-founders of the group Michigan United for Liberty, which is organizing the event on Thursday, says she understands that protestors have a Second Amendment right to carry a firearm, but she’s also concerned about the effect its having on legislators and supporters.
Pettinaro said Thursday’s so-called “Judgement Day” rally was intended to draw attention to what she called Whitmer’s “hypocrisy” and inconsistencies in setting and enforcing the stay-at-home order, which has been relaxed somewhat in recent weeks as the increase in the number of cases has declined.
She said the group has never encouraged violence or that any protesters come to rallies with guns.
While recognizing the Second Amendment right of protesters, Pettinaro said, “People do look at it as intimidating, even some of our members are turned off… It is our constitutional right, so we can’t stop people. But at the same time, we just want things to be peaceful.”
Pettinaro said that while her group — which has filed a lawsuit against Whitmer’s order — encourages people to protest, she said it wants them to be peaceful. “Don’t be threatening, don’t be intimidating,” she said.