Michigan Republican legislators rally for gun rights

The once-canceled Second Amendment March was back on at the Capitol this week

By: - October 7, 2023 10:16 am

The annual Second Amendment March on the Michigan Capitol Building Steps on October 5, 2023. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)Michigan Rep. Angela Rigas (R-Caledonia) speaks at the annual Second Amendment March on the Michigan Capitol Building Steps on October 5, 2023. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

Even after long-delayed statewide gun law reforms were enacted in Michigan this year, several Republican legislators on Thursday addressed a gathering of gun rights supporters at the annual Second Amendment March on the state Capitol Building steps.

Rep. Greg Markkanen (R-Hancock) told the crowd of dozens through the rain: “Our Second Amendment was put in there for good reason.”

Whitmer signs ‘red flag’ gun safety bills 

After members of the bipartisan Michigan Capitol Commission this year signaled they would ban guns from the Capitol building, march organizers told the Advance in July they would cancel the annual event. They instead held an Ionia rally later that month with Kyle Rittenhouse, who was acquitted after shooting and killing two men and wounding a third during the civil unrest in the summer of 2020 in Kenosha, Wisc., over the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

But in August, organizers decided to hold a march in October when lawmakers would be in session.

“We just rethought it, that’s all,” Skip Coryell, founder of Second Amendment March, which hosts the annual event, told the Advance at the time.

The Michigan Capitol Commission in August unanimously voted to ban “firearms, explosives or other items that pose a threat to security that are not reasonably necessary,” from the Capitol building, with an exception for lawmakers. However, the panel did not expand the policy to the Capitol lawn, saying it would be unenforceable.

And under the new Democratic majority in the Legislature, major changes surrounding access and ownership of firearms have been signed into law by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. 

Whitmer signed legislation including universal background checks for all firearm sales, safe storage laws for firearms and ammunition and the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, also known as “red flag” laws, which allow courts to issue emergency temporary restrictions on the ownership and purchasing of firearms for those determined to be a threat to themselves or others.

“The Democrats have been able to ram through safe storage, universal background checks and red flag laws,” state Rep. Angela Rigas (R-Caledonia) said. “We will fight those until they’re overturned.”

The flurry of Democratic bills were introduced in the days following the Michigan State University mass shooting, where three students were killed. Just over a year earlier, four students were murdered in a shooting at Oxford High School.

Michigan Rep. Angela Rigas (R-Caledonia) speaks at the annual Second Amendment March on the Michigan Capitol Building Steps on October 5, 2023. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

Rigas said it’s important for those who support the Second Amendment to participate in elections and elect officials that will protect gun rights.

“We need this brotherhood right now. Brotherhood of people that support the Constitution, because behind me and across the street, it’s filled with people who do not,” Rigas said. “The Democrats, the Democrat trifecta, they are hellbent on taking your firearms away, my firearms away and making us defenseless. And I say, ‘hell no.’”

Rigas was at the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection of former President Donald Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol where five people were killed and more than 140 police officers were injured. The first-term lawmaker has said that she considers being called an “insurrectionist” and “terrorist” a “compliment,” and believes participants were “exercising their God-given Constitutional rights.”

Rep. Joseph Fox (R-Tecumseh) recalled his childhood in the Irish Hills in Michigan, a self-proclaimed, “Michigan hillbilly,” having started hunting at 10 years old.

“America was built upon the ability to stand for what we believe in and in order to stand, we need to have our guns available to us. And at some point, we may have to stand against the tyranny that comes rolling down the aisles at us and that’s a pun intended,” Fox said.

There are a lot of people in society where the current culture has taught people to be scared of guns, Sen. Jonathan Lindsey (R-Sturgis) said while criticizing the government.

“We’re not headed down a path where government is going to mean much in the coming year at this rate,” Lindsey said. “People come and ask me, ‘Well, what about the next election cycle? What about the next election cycle?’ And I’m dead serious when I tell them I’ll be happy in four years if we’re still having elections. I’ll be happy if our self-governing Republic manages to persist through these times that we see.”


Rep. Mike Hoadley (R-Au Gres) borrowed from language in the Second Amendment and had the rally of about 50 people yell towards the Capitol Building, “Shall not infringe.”

“The Second Amendment is what guarantees all of our freedoms. It’s what separates a citizen from a subject. It empowers the fourth branch of our government that we probably don’t hear of much in the history books in that fourth branch is, ‘We the people’. So I ask, ‘What part of shall not infringe do they not understand?’”

Markkanen expressed hope that people could remember that the Second Amendment was a major priority for the U.S.’s founders, so much so it was the second item listed in the Bill of Rights.

“Our Second Amendment was put in there for good reason. The British wanted to confiscate our weapons. The founding fathers and mothers of this nation said, ‘No we’re not going to put up with that. We need our weapons; our weapons are our God-given right.’’” 


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Anna Liz Nichols
Anna Liz Nichols

Anna Liz Nichols covers government and statewide issues, including criminal justice, environmental issues, education and domestic and sexual violence. Anna is a former state government reporter for The Associated Press and most recently was a reporter for the Detroit News. Anna is a graduate of Michigan State University.