Michigan Judge Strikes Down Open Carry Ban at the Polls

Michigan voters will be allowed to carry firearms to the polling stations on 3 November. What happened?


A Judge in the Michigan Court of Claims issued an injunction which effectively halts Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s ban on the open carry of firearms at voting stations.

  • On 16 October, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson issued an order which banned the open carry of firearms within 100 feet of a polling station on election day, citing public safety and election integrity concerns.
  • The ban came in response to mounting concerns about voter intimidation following the foiled kidnapping plot of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and President Trump’s failure to publicly condemn right-wing violence.
  • Benson’s ban was immediately met with backlash from Second Amendment activists; two lawsuits were filed within days of the ban challenging Benson’s authority to issue such a directive.
  • On Monday, some Michigan law enforcement officials said that they could and would not enforce Benson’s directive, declaring that they have “no legal authority to make an arrest” of voters carrying firearms to the polls. Others said that they would not enforce the ban because they felt it was unconstitutional.
  • Yesterday, Claims Court Judge Christopher Murray struck down the ban, saying that Benson did not enact the proper legislative process to issue the directive. Murray added that voter intimidation and assault are still crimes, and anyone using their firearm for these purposes can still be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
  • Benson and her team responded to the ruling on Tuesday by saying that they would do everything in their power to ensure a free and fair election for Michigan voters. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said that she plans to appeal Judge Murray’s decision.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • Is sympathetic to Benson and her team. Huff Post points out that Michigan is a key swing state in the Presidential election, and argues that the Secretary of State has every right and every incentive to enforce fair and safe voting laws there. CNN reports that the political atmosphere in Michigan is rapidly becoming “increasingly toxic.”
  • Is accordingly critical of the Judge’s ruling to overturn Benson’s directive. The Guardian reports that, although gun owners say that they do not intend to incite violence, the mere presence of a firearm serves to escalate tensions. Washington Post writes that six states and the District of Columbia have already banned guns at polling stations. CommonDreams.org writes that the judge actively dismissed “glaring concerns” about public safety and voter intimidation by ruling in favor of the injunction.
  • Reminds readers of the heavy right-wing militia presence in Michigan, including the kidnapping scandal which was revealed earlier this month.


  • Is critical of Benson for enacting the order to begin with. Fox News implies that Benson’s claims that voter intimidation will occur are totally unfounded. An op-ed in The Detroit News says that Benson had no grounds to ban guns in the first place.
  • Agrees with the judge’s decision. Washington Examiner points out that Murray’s decision was non-partisan and in no way related to gun rights; it was instead based on whether or not Benson’s directive was fair.
  • Sides with gun rights groups, reminding readers that ownership of firearms is a Constitutional right under the Second Amendment.


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© Evelyn Torsher, 2020