Michigan Judge Blocks Ban On Open Carry Of Guns At Polls On Election Day

Oct 28, 2020
Originally published on October 29, 2020 11:13 am

A Michigan judge has blocked a ban on openly carrying firearms at Michigan polling places on Election Day.

Court of Claims Judge Christopher Murray granted a preliminary injunction to pro-gun groups who filed motions to block the directive issued by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on Oct. 16.

Benson sought to prohibit firearms at polling places, clerk's offices and other locations where absentee ballots will be tallied. Her order also barred individuals openly carrying guns from coming within 100 feet of buildings serving as polling centers.

However, Murray said in his opinion Tuesday that Benson's directive didn't follow the formal process laid out in state law about how new orders are enacted.

"The main issue as the Court sees it is the allegation that the directive violates the [Administrative Procedures Act] because it is a rule that was not promulgated through the act's procedures," Murray wrote. "And, a rule not promulgated under the APA is invalid."

Murray also appeared to take issue on the timing of Benson's directive – less than three weeks ahead of Election Day.

"Although it is understandable why defendant chose to act now, it is nonetheless true that defendant could have taken these steps months ago—perhaps prior to the August primaries—rather than 17 days before the election," the judge said.

Plaintiff Robert Davis, who sued to block Benson's order and is described by the Detroit Free Press as a "serial litigant," called the judge's order "a victory for the rule of law."

Michigan Open Carry Inc., Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners, Inc. and Michigan Gun Owners, Inc. also filed a motion.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says her office plans to appeal the court blocking her ban of openly carrying firearms near polling places on Election Day. She's seen above speaking during the Democratic National Convention in August.
Democratic National Convention via AP / AP

Following the judge's order, Benson swiftly vowed to appeal.

"As the state's Chief Election Officer I have a sworn duty to protect every voter and their right to cast their ballot free from intimidation and harassment. I will continue to protect that right in Michigan, and we will be appealing this ruling," Benson said in a statement.

Heading into Election Day, there are mounting concerns of possible confrontations at polling places across the nation amid deep partisan divisions this election cycle.

President Trump has helped exacerbate those fears, suggesting baselessly that Democrats are attempting to "steal" the election.

Michigan, which had been a reliably Democratic stronghold, was narrowly won by Trump in 2016 by fewer than 11,000 votes.

Now, both Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden are making the state a focus in the final stretch of the election. A Washington Post-ABC News Poll released Wednesday shows that among likely voters, Biden leads Trump by seven percentage points, at 51% to 44%.

Read the court's order below.

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