Tags: 2020 Elections | Gun Control | Gun Rights | michigan | firearms | polling | ban

Michigan Police, Sheriffs Will Defy Firearms Ban at Polling Places

a ballot box should michigan and ballots flying into it
(Dreamstime)

By    |   Monday, 26 October 2020 04:15 PM

Michigan law enforcement officials say they cannot enforce the state's secretary of state executive order prohibiting openly carried firearms at or near polling places on election day because they have no lawful authority to make an arrest.

"The issue with the Secretary of State issuing the ban on open carry at the polling stations is she issued an administrative order," said Robert Stevenson, head of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police. "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. We have no authority to enforce the secretary's order. This is exactly what prosecutors are advising us."

The issue has arisen after Michigan's Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson issued an executive order Oct. 16 – with the support of the state's Attorney General Dana Nessel, both Democrats – claiming it was necessary to protect against "threats, intimidation or harassment."

Benon's action has been challenged in two lawsuits filed by gun rights activists and groups including Michigan Open Carry Inc., Michigan Gun Owners, and the Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported.

Benson has called on the Michigan State Police to enforce her order, and while the MSP says it will respond to calls of harassment, intimidation or disorderly conduct, it was waiting to see the outcome of the court challenges.

"It is a policy that has been put out," MSP spokesman Lt. Derrick Carroll said. "We're law enforcement officers. We're not politicians or legislators or attorneys."

But several chiefs and sheriffs already have said they have told they have been told by their local prosecutors – after the Michigan Association of Chief of Police suggested they do so – that they cannot enforce the ban.

Benzie County Sheriff Ted Schendel called Benson's order "illegal." Others have been more specific.

"If someone is open carrying at a polling site and that's all they are doing there is no law violation," Grand Traverse County Sheriff Tom Bensley said. "We can only arrest someone if they break the law."

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Michigan law enforcement officials say they cannot enforce the state's secretary of state executive order prohibiting openly carried firearms at or near polling places on election day because they have no lawful authority to make an arrest.
michigan, firearms, polling, ban, executive order, unenforceable law
365
2020-15-26
Monday, 26 October 2020 04:15 PM
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