Judge Strikes Down Michigan Ban on Open Carrying Guns at Polls

In this April 15, 2020 file photo, protesters carry guns outside the Capitol Building in Lansing, Mich.

In this April 15, 2020 file photo, protesters carry guns outside the Capitol Building in Lansing, Mich. AP Photo

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | New report warns of increased militia activity … A Nevada county and airport fined by state for President Trump’s rally violating Covid rules … Pandemic negotiations falter before election.

A  judge overturned a new Michigan policy to ban people from open carrying guns at polling places on Election Day. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson issued the directive prohibiting guns earlier this month, saying that opening carrying would not be allowed within 100 feet of polling places. The order came about a week after the FBI arrested a group of men and charged them with plotting to kidnap and kill Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. But Michigan Court of Claims Judge Christopher Murray found that Benson did not follow the proper procedure for making an administrative change and granted a preliminary injunction sought by pro-gun groups.  "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," Murray wrote in his opinion. "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." Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel said they would appeal the ruling. "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. Open carrying of guns will still not be allowed at churches or schools, where existing law says that is prohibited. The NAACP’s Detroit branch on Tuesday said it would deploy members and attorneys across the state to report on any attempted voter intimidation. [Detroit Free Press; CNN]

MILITIA ACTIVITY | A new report from ACLED and MilitiaWatch finds that right-wing militias have steadily ramped up their activities in the run-up to the presidential election and highlights five states most at risk for heightened activity during and after Election Day. Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Oregon are at the highest risk, while North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, California, and New Mexico are considered at moderate risk. Capitals and peripheral towns in those states are “important potential inflection points for violence” and medium-sized cities and suburban areas with centralized zones may be at risk for heightened activity, the report states. [ACLED and MilitiaWatch]

RALLY FINES | Nevada officials fined a county and airport more than $5,500 for violating pandemic-related crowd control protocols by allowing President Trump to host a campaign rally that drew thousands of people. The state’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Douglas County and Minden Airport manager ABS Aviation for hosting the outdoor event last month without submitting a safety plan to the Nevada Division of Industrial Relations. At the time, the state had an emergency coronavirus order in place that limited crowds to less than 50 people. [Nevada Independent, Associated Press]

NO PANDEMIC DEAL | Lawmakers in Washington, D.C. are tamping down expectations that any coronavirus stimulus package can be passed before the Nov. 3 election. The Senate adjourned Monday through Nov. 9 without any agreement on a deal. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have been in near-daily discussions over pandemic relief and spoke again Monday, but gave no indication of any major progress. Meanwhile White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Tuesday that chances of an agreement before the election are slim and blamed Pelosi for asking for too many things that Republicans could not agree to. [Roll Call, Reuters]

PROSECUTOR IMPERSONATION | A New Hampshire woman is accused of impersonating a prosecutor in order to drop charges against herself. Along with stalking and drug charges, the woman is now charged with false personation for allegedly logging onto the court election system and filing fake documents. [Union Leader]

Andrea Noble is a staff correspondent at Route Fifty and Laura Maggi is the managing editor.

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