A county commissioner in Michigan is taking heat after he held an AR-15 in front of his camera during a virtual board of commissioners meeting last week.
He picked up the rifle in response to a woman who was criticizing the board for allegedly allowing members of the Proud Boys to carry firearms into a meeting to make the county a Second Amendment sanctuary.
Keli MacIntosh took the virtual floor to ask the commissioners a series of questions related to the Proud Boys and Second Amendment advocates, which she conflated repeatedly throughout her statement. During her comments, Grand Traverse County Commission Vice Chair Ron Clous got up from his seat and came back holding an AR-15. He held it in front of the screen for several seconds before putting it aside.
Clous told GunsAmerica that he displayed the rifle to demonstrate his support of gun rights.
An attorney in the county wrote a letter calling for Clous’s resignation, which was signed by 500 other county residents.
“There needs to be consequences for this brazen attack against constitutionally protected free speech. I am calling on commissioner Ron Clous, who responded to a member of the public by displaying a firearm, to resign immediately,” the letter reads.
The full context of Clous’s actions reveals a more complex picture than the 30-second clip that has been spread online.
MacIntosh accused the commission of encouraging the armed protest at the Michigan state capitol in which demonstrators carried semi-automatic rifles into the legislative chamber. She insinuated that the commission was encouraging that behavior by allowing Second Amendment advocates to carry rifles into an in-person commission meeting around the same time.
“I’m wondering if you realize that when he asked for a symbolic message to be sent out to the community to make our country a sanctuary for Second Amendment activists, did you intend to give him permission to have groups like the Proud Boys standing in the balcony of the Capitol and threatening the state legislature with their assault rifles?” she asked. “You actually allowed the weapons to be in the BOC chambers when he was speaking, and I guess was the symbolic message that he was asking to give to the state, a subtle encouragement for them to threaten Whitmer’s life?”
She also decried the fact that northern Michigan has changed from a “hunting culture” to a “gun culture.”
“It’s really hard to tell the difference between the Proud Boys and the message they want through our state, how that’s different from what’s happened in Washington,” she said. “Welcoming such a group and having that message go out has changed the environment in northern Michigan from a hunting culture to that of a gun culture.”
In an interview with GunsAmerica, Clous explained that MacIntosh’s comment about “hunting culture” and “gun culture” prompted his actions. Clous is an avid hunter (as evidenced by the deer mounts in the background), and he wanted to show that he also supported the Second Amendment.
Clous made a similar argument in an interview with the Traverse City Record-Eagle last week.
“I was going to chime in as well,” Clous said. “I was just going to show the rifle and show that I fully support the Second Amendment, but then I opted not to … I was in my home,” he said.
Click here to watch MacIntosh’s full statement.