LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and fellow lawmakers are voicing their disapproval of gun-toting protesters who swarmed the state capital to rally against the coronavirus (COVID-19) stay-at-home order.
Tuesday was a busy day in Lansing. Whitmer appeared on national television, received legal backing from Attorney General Dana Nessel and also pulled out her veto pen.
Nessel announced Whitmer’s state of emergency is legal and enforceable. Meanwhile, as promised, Whitmer vetoed the legislature’s bill attempting to limit her emergency powers.
Lawmakers are also sharing their opinions on the protesters who rallied with guns at the capital. On Thursday, gun-toting militia protesters joined a larger group demanding the governor reopen the state’s economy.
The protest then spilled inside, and one of a number of armed protesters was at the front of the line, confronting police officers and demanding to be allowed onto the House floor. They never made it.
“They carried nooses and Confederate flags and swastikas, and yet while we’re focusing on their open carrying automatic rifles -- that is legal in Michigan," Whitmer said Tuesday on the TODAY Show. “It’s not advisable. It is contrary to all the CDC best practices. It’s contrary to what the Trump White House is saying that we should be doing, and yet, they are out there to demonstrate.”
Despite the wide gulf between the Senate at the governor, Senate Majority Leader Lee Shirkey said in a radio interview Monday that the armed protesters were intimidating and inappropriate.
“There was a handful of people, mostly guys, that were, I think, over the edge in terms of how they were attired, how they were carrying their weapons, their facial expressions and body language,” Shirkey said.
Another person taken aback by the protests was John Truscott, a Republican and vice chairman of the Michigan Capitol Commission, which is responsible for the capital building and its safety.
“We would like to see some sort of restraint in terms of what can be brought into the building -- carrying openly loaded rifles is probably not where we want to be at this point,” Truscott said.
The Commission doesn’t have jurisdiction. It would be up to the legislature to change the law, but that doesn’t appear likely right now.
The group Michigan Open Carry was unhappy with the governor’s characterization of automatic weapons.