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Judge Tosses Michigan’s Sudden Ban On Openly Carrying Guns On Election Day

Lansing, MI – A judge struck down a directive from the Michigan Secretary of State on Tuesday that banned the open carry of guns at polling places on Election Day.

Michigan Court of Claims Judge Christopher Murray said that Democratic Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson didn’t follow the proper procedures when she created an administrative rule under state law, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Murray issued a preliminary injunction against the directive on Oct. 27.

“It is important to recognize that this case is not about whether it is a good idea to openly carry a firearm at a polling place, or whether the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prevents the secretary of state’s… directive,” the judge opined. “The court’s duty is not to act as an overseer of the Department of State, nor is it to impose its view on the wisdom of openly carrying firearms at polling places or other election locations.”

“More importantly, its constitutional role is properly limited to only declaring what the law is, not what it should be,” he added, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Murray that if Benson wanted to issue that directive, she should have done so under the under the Administrative Procedures Act, which would have allowed for public input and legislative scrutiny.

“The secretary just didn’t do this in the right way and at the right time,” the judge said at the hearing.

He said that if she wanted to ban the open carry of firearms at polling locations on Election Day, “the secretary should have done this months ago,” the Detroit Free Press reported.

The Detroit National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) announced later that day that it would have poll watchers, including area attorneys, making sure that voters weren’t being intimidated by gun-toting people at the polling locations, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Benson’s weapons ban for Election Day, enacted on Oct. 16, on prohibited openly carrying a gun within 100 feet of a polling place on Nov. 3, according to Newsweek.

Concealed guns were still permitted, unless the polling place was located someplace that guns were banned, such as a church or a school.

Some county sheriffs in Michigan said they would not have enforced the open carry ban on Election Day regardless, Newsweek reported.

Benzie County Sheriff Ted Schendel called the ban on open carry illegal, according to the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

“She doesn’t have the authority to make laws,” Sheriff Schendel said.

Robert Stevenson, the executive director of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, said that police officers wouldn’t be able to enforce the ban anyway because it wasn’t based on law, according to Newsweek.

“The issue with the Secretary of State issuing the ban on open carry at the polling stations is she issued an administrative order,” Stevenson explained. “Michigan has an open-carry law that prohibits open carry in defined locations. Polling locations are not one of those.”

“So the issue for us is not that we won’t enforce the ban, it’s that there is no law that we can enforce,” he said. “We have no authority to enforce the secretary’s order. This is exactly what prosecutors are advising us.”

“Whatever the court decides we can do or cannot do to regrading open carry at the polls is what the Michigan chiefs will do. We will enforce any applicable laws,” Stevenson added.

Benson and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel wasted no time in announcing they would appeal the court’s ruling, the Detroit Free Press reported.

“As the state’s chief elections officer, I have the sworn duty to protect every voter and their right to cast the ballot free from intimidation and harassment,” Benson said in a written statement. “I will continue to protect that right in Michigan.”

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Written by
Tom Gantert

Tom Gantert graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Tom started in the newspaper business in 1983. He has worked at the Jackson Citizen Patriot (Michigan), Lansing State Journal (Michigan), Ann Arbor News (Michigan), Vineland Daily-Journal (Michigan), North Hills News Record (Pennsylvania) and USA Today (Virginia). He is also currently the managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential, a daily news site of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Tom is the father of a Michigan State Police trooper.

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