Proud Boys and paramilitary groups join hundreds of armed protesters outside Michigan Capitol
Proud Boys in Michigan (Twitter)

Hundreds of gun activists held an open-carry rally outside the Michigan Capitol to protest Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's policies.

About 1,000 demonstrators carried rifles and handguns outside the Lansing statehouse Thursday to protest a recent push to ban guns from the Capitol building and the Democratic governor's stay-at-home orders to prevent coronavirus spread, reported MLive.

“Whether you decide to open carry or concealed carry, that is your choice," said Tom Lambert, former president of Michigan Open Carry. "It is not my job to make that decision for you. It is not their job to make that decision for you either.”

Members of the far-right Proud Boys and the paramilitary Michigan Liberty Militia took part in the demonstration.

The protest, which was planned weeks ago came shortly after the Michigan State Capitol Commission rejected two proposals to ban weapons in the statehouse, in response to a previous armed protest against Gretchen's coronavirus orders.

“It’s been four months since armed gunmen stood above elected officials while they worked,” tweeted Michigan Senate Democrats this week. “Legislators, staff, children & teachers shouldn’t have to fear guns in the Capitol.”

David “Dude” Dudenhoefer, a Republican challenger to Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), agreed the April 30 demonstration may have looked bad to some, but he pointed out that none of them had fired shots and compared that to violence at protests against police brutality.

“Wherever you go, you have the right to defend yourself,” Dudenhoefer said. “If there are places where they restrict that right, that’s a criminal empowerment zone.”