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Heavily-armed protesters wearing Proud Boys and Black Guns Matter masks enter the Michigan Capitol

Heavily-armed protesters wearing Proud Boys and Black Guns Matter masks entered the Michigan Capitol Thursday to defend their Second Amendment rights, as lawmakers continue to debate whether to ban guns from the building.

Around 1,000 demonstrators gathered on the state Capitol lawn in Lansing throughout the day as part of the annual Second Amendment March that celebrates their right to open carry firearms across the state.   

Many protesters were heavily armed with AR-15 rifles slung over their shoulders, while many sported paraphernalia in support of extreme right-wing groups and Donald Trump.

Some entered the statehouse with their firearms and others brought their children along for the event while holding up banners reading: ‘Gun control kills kids.’

The annual rally comes as the Michigan Capitol Commission considers whether to ban firearms inside the building, in the wake of anti-lockdown protests back in April where demonstrators carrying guns stormed the statehouse while lawmakers were in session with several complaining they felt threatened.

Demonstrators carrying rifles entered the statehouse in Michigan Thursday during a rally to protect the Second Amendment

Demonstrators carrying rifles entered the statehouse in Michigan Thursday during a rally to protect the Second Amendment

An armed member of the Proud Boys attends a Second Amendment rally outside the Michigan Supreme Court Building

An armed member of the Proud Boys attends a Second Amendment rally outside the Michigan Supreme Court Building

Heavily armed protesters wearing Proud Boys and Black Guns Matter masks entered the Michigan Capitol Thursday to defend their Second Amendment rights

Heavily armed protesters wearing Proud Boys and Black Guns Matter masks entered the Michigan Capitol Thursday to defend their Second Amendment rights

Around 1,000 demonstrators gathered on the state Capitol lawn in Lansing throughout the day as part of the annual Second Amendment March that celebrates their right to open carry firearms across the state

Around 1,000 demonstrators gathered on the state Capitol lawn in Lansing throughout the day as part of the annual Second Amendment March that celebrates their right to open carry firearms across the state 

Among those that did don masks, some opted for coverings that promoted extreme right-wing group Proud Boys or that featured the slogan 'Black Guns Matter' or 'All Lives Matter'

Among those that did don masks, some opted for coverings that promoted extreme right-wing group Proud Boys or that featured the slogan ‘Black Guns Matter’ or ‘All Lives Matter’ 

Others were dressed head to toe in military gear and bulletproof vests and many were heavily armed with AR-15 rifles slung over their shoulders

Others were dressed head to toe in military gear and bulletproof vests and many were heavily armed with AR-15 rifles slung over their shoulders

Firearms are permitted both inside the statehouse and at the rally as Michigan is an open carry state.  

Few people were seen wearing face masks to protect against the virus that has killed almost 200,000 Americans.

Among those that did don masks, some opted for coverings that promoted extreme right-wing group Proud Boys or that featured the slogan ‘Black Guns Matter’ or ‘All Lives Matter’. 

Others were dressed head to toe in military gear and bulletproof vests, while some sported MAGA hats and waved American flags with ‘Trump’ emblazoned across them. 

One couple were seen carrying rifles and had brought along their daughter for the day out – who was armed with a BB gun. 

Another couple in their 50s carried AR-15s as they walked through the rotunda inside the statehouse.

Hundreds gathered on the lawn with many sporting paraphernalia in support of extreme right-wing groups and Trump

Hundreds gathered on the lawn with many sporting paraphernalia in support of extreme right-wing groups and Trump

Supporters of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution are seen inside the Senate Chambers as they take part in the annual march for the right to bear arms

Supporters of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution are seen inside the Senate Chambers as they take part in the annual march for the right to bear arms

Maskless men carrying rifles are seen inside the statehouse as the state debates whether guns should be banned from the building

Maskless men carrying rifles are seen inside the statehouse as the state debates whether guns should be banned from the building

Michigan Home Guard militia members march toward the State Capitol to show their support for gun rights

Michigan Home Guard militia members march toward the State Capitol to show their support for gun rights

Few people were seen wearing face masks to protect against the virus that has killed almost 200,000 Americans

Few people were seen wearing face masks to protect against the virus that has killed almost 200,000 Americans

Others were dressed head to toe in military gear and bulletproof vests, while some sported MAGA hats and waved American flags with 'Trump' emblazoned across them

Others were dressed head to toe in military gear and bulletproof vests, while some sported MAGA hats and waved American flags with ‘Trump’ emblazoned across them

The annual rally comes as the Michigan Capitol Commission considers whether to ban firearms inside the building

The annual rally comes as the Michigan Capitol Commission considers whether to ban firearms inside the building

Armed demonstrators pose for a group photo during the Second Amendment rally in Lansing

Armed demonstrators pose for a group photo during the Second Amendment rally in Lansing 

Jeff and Sheila Humphrey told Detroit News they don’t believe guns are killing people but the people using them.  

‘Everything is done by a person’s intentions. So if you blame a person before they’ve done anything … what’s the point of having any rights?’ said Jeff.

‘It’s not so much the guns that are killing people. It’s the people who are killing people,’ added Sheila.  

The rally draws crowds of gun-toting activists to the statehouse every year.

However, this year’s protest comes amid intense debate around the state’s current rules allowing people to carry firearms inside the building. 

The gun activists are seen inside the Senate chambers during Thursday's rally in Michigan

The gun activists are seen inside the Senate chambers during Thursday’s rally in Michigan 

Guns are seen on display as supporters of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution gather in Michigan

Guns are seen on display as supporters of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution gather in Michigan

The debate over a ban comes in the wake of anti-lockdown protests back in April where demonstrators carrying guns stormed the statehouse while lawmakers were in session with several complaining they felt threatened

The debate over a ban comes in the wake of anti-lockdown protests back in April where demonstrators carrying guns stormed the statehouse while lawmakers were in session with several complaining they felt threatened

Protesters dressed head to toe in military gear and carrying firearms wave Trump and MAGA flags at the rally

Protesters dressed head to toe in military gear and carrying firearms wave Trump and MAGA flags at the rally  

One protester wears a 'Black Guns Matter' face covering while a rifle is slung over his shoulder outside the statehouse

One protester wears a ‘Black Guns Matter’ face covering while a rifle is slung over his shoulder outside the statehouse

On Monday, the Michigan Capitol Commission rejected a proposal to ban guns and another proposal to limit the open carry of weapons inside the statehouse.

The panel is, however, still considering a ban and a meeting will be held on the matter between the commission and the leaders of the Michigan House and Senate.

Opponents of the ban say such a move takes away their constitutional right to carry guns.  

Phil Robinson, a member of Michigan Liberty Militia, told Detroit News at Thursday’s rally that citizens have ‘every right’ to carry their weapons inside the building.

‘This is my house,’ Robinson said. 

‘I make the rules here, not them… We have every right to be in that building with our guns.’ 

The annual Second Amendment March draws crowds of gun-toting activists to the statehouse every year

The annual Second Amendment March draws crowds of gun-toting activists to the statehouse every year

Protesters pose with their guns and no face masks outside the statehouse Thursday celebrating the open carry law

Protesters pose with their guns and no face masks outside the statehouse Thursday celebrating the open carry law

Young pro-gun activists carry their firearms at the event Thursday, while debate continues around the state's current rules allowing people to carry firearms inside the statehouse

Young pro-gun activists carry their firearms at the event Thursday, while debate continues around the state’s current rules allowing people to carry firearms inside the statehouse

On Monday, the Michigan Capitol Commission rejected a proposal to ban guns and another proposal to limit the open carry of weapons inside the statehouse

On Monday, the Michigan Capitol Commission rejected a proposal to ban guns and another proposal to limit the open carry of weapons inside the statehouse

Books including 'Concealed carry for Christians' and 'The Covid chronicles' are on display at the event

Books including ‘Concealed carry for Christians’ and ‘The Covid chronicles’ are on display at the event 

However those in favor of a ban said elected officials should feel safe in their place of work and warned that the current rules could enable ‘something terrible’ to happen.  

Joan Bauer, a former Democratic lawmaker from Lansing and commission members, said the commission has a ‘moral and legal responsibility to act before something terrible happens.’ 

The debate over whether guns should be allowed inside the statehouse has raged on for years in Michigan. 

It came to a head in April when armed anti-lockdown protesters entered the Capitol building and shouted at them while they were in session. 

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered with their weapons – and most of them without face masks – outside the statehouse on April 30 demanding an end to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order.   

Whitmer had announced an extension to the stay-at-home order until at least May 28 as cases and deaths surged – a move protesters branded ‘unconstitutional’.

An anti-Trump banner is touted by some demonstrators near to a banner urging people to wear masks and social distance

An anti-Trump banner is touted by some demonstrators near to a banner urging people to wear masks and social distance

The commission is considering a ban on guns inside the statehouse and a meeting will be held on the matter between the commission and the leaders of the Michigan House and Senate

The commission is considering a ban on guns inside the statehouse and a meeting will be held on the matter between the commission and the leaders of the Michigan House and Senate

Some parents brought their young children along to the day out where around a thousand gathered with their weapons

Some parents brought their young children along to the day out where around a thousand gathered with their weapons 

A member of the extreme right-wing Proud Boys group views merchandise including badges that read: 'Kill bad guys like a champion today'

A member of the extreme right-wing Proud Boys group views merchandise including badges that read: ‘Kill bad guys like a champion today’ 

Several protesters spilled inside the statehouse, with some heavily armed men venturing onto the visitor’s balcony in the Senate chambers and shouting down on the lawmakers below.

Some demanded to be let onto the House floor – something that is prohibited – and chanted ‘let us in’ when they were blocked by a line of police. 

Several lawmakers said they felt threatened during the protest and law enforcement issued a warning ahead of a protest in May that anyone brandishing a firearm with the intent to create fear would face arrest.  

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said that despite a longstanding rule that Michiganders with permits can bring weapons into the capitol, ‘anyone brandishing them in such a way as to intimidate or threaten anyone else should be properly handcuffed, properly taken in and fingerprinted.’  

On April 30 several protesters - some carrying guns - entered the capitol building (pictured). Firearms are permitted both inside the statehouse and at the rally as Michigan is an open carry state

On April 30 several protesters – some carrying guns – entered the capitol building (pictured). Firearms are permitted both inside the statehouse and at the rally as Michigan is an open carry state 

Protesters enter the statehouse on April 30. The debate over whether guns should be allowed inside the statehouse came to a head when armed anti-lockdown protesters entered the Capitol building and shouted at them while they were in session

Protesters enter the statehouse on April 30. The debate over whether guns should be allowed inside the statehouse came to a head when armed anti-lockdown protesters entered the Capitol building and shouted at them while they were in session

Views on a ban largely run along political party lines in the state. 

In May, the largely Republican legislature stopped short of issuing a blanket ban on bringing firearms inside the statehouse. 

Meanwhile Democrat Whitmer has spoken out in favor of issuing a ban. 

The Michigan Senate Democrats’ official Twitter account this week said elected officials ‘shouldn’t have to fear guns in the Capitol’.

‘It’s been four months since armed gunmen stood above elected officials while they worked,’ it tweeted this week. 

‘Legislators, staff, children & teachers shouldn’t have to fear guns in the Capitol.’ 

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