State's gun ban at polls on Election Day may not be final

Posted at 4:31 PM, Oct 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-19 16:31:24-04

(WXYZ) — Sheriffs and local police are still scrambling to decide how to enforce a ban on open carry guns at polls on Election Day. The ban was issued by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on Friday.

“The open carry of a firearm is prohibited in a polling place, in any hallway used by voters to enter or exit, or within 100 feet of any entrance to a building in which a polling place is located,” Benson said.

Now local law enforcement are left to decide how and if they'll enforce it.

“The first thing we’re doing is conferring with our corporation counsel,” Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham tells 7 Action News.

While Livingston County Sheriff Mike Murphy is clear that his deputies won't be enforcing the ban.

"No we’re not going to enforce it,” Murphy said.

The stakes are high. We’ve seen open carry First and Second Amendment gun protests in Lansing. Two brothers who were in the Senate gallery are now locked up and charged with a dozen others in an alleged plot to kidnap and kill Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

For now, Macomb County deputies will respond to any trouble and any intimidation at the polls as they have in past elections. Sheriff Wickersham says that happens in just about every election and includes someone violating approaching a voter within 100 feet, shouting and other disturbances. The sheriff also says he expects someone to show up with a gun to challenge the ban.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says Michigan State Police will step in as needed.

However, Livingston County Sheriff Murphy says, “to say that state police are going to do this is ludicrous.”

Murphy calls the ban a “political stunt.” He also says anyone who does open carry a gun to the poll on Election Day, votes and leaves without intimidating anyone will be left alone.

Gun rights groups are working on a lawsuit to challenge the ban. They say waiting before two weeks before the election was intentional.