About 100 gun rights supporters rallied on the steps of the state Capitol building in solidarity with Virginia, as a lineup of speakers warned the heavily-armed crowd that the gun control measures proposed in that state could happen in Michigan, too.
“They could literally be at our doorstep tomorrow here in Michigan with those same bills,” said DeeDee Dubose, one of the event’s organizers from Jackson. “That’s why we’re here to stand with Virginia, and our people saying, 'No, no, no, that’s not right.’”
There's a strong sense in this community of activists (both those who showed up in Lansing and those who are part of the online group that organized the event, Michigan for 2A Sanctuary Counties) that they're under siege, and that they're the last line of defense for these individual freedoms.
And while Virginia Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency last week, citing threats of violence at the Richmond rally from “hate groups” and “out-of-state militias,” Republican congressional candidate Mike Detmer echoed a popular feeling here in Michigan: any “trouble” wouldn’t come from their side.
"It wasn't going to come from legal gun owners,” Detmer told the Lansing crowd. “It was going to come from criminals. It was going to come from paid protestors who are out to make an example."
Detmer, who’s in a competitive primary race to take on Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin in Michigan’s 8th District, was part of the overall campaign rally feel of the day. From folks waving Trump flags to a conservative talk show host, Steve Gruber, urging everyone to get their friends to the polls to vote Republican in November, the 2020 election was a central theme.
The gun control controversy in Virginia should be a wakeup call to conservative voters, Detmer said.
"And I'm talking about gun owners who don't believe the threat is as real as it is. And what we're seeing right now in Virginia is a brazen attempt to really start to infringe on the Second Amendment."
Lawmakers, however, weren't there to see the rally, because the Capitol was closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. “They’ll see it on the news!” one man shouted, when Dubose mentioned that during her speech.
“Believe it or not, it brings up thoughts of Hitler, Stalin; just taking away everything,” Dubose said, referring to the Virginia proposals. “Once you take away the Second Amendment, they can take away the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, and the Fourteenth...When we give up some of those freedoms, it’s the slippery slope. Because then more can be taken away from us.”