Watch CBS News

Michigan bans openly carrying guns at polling places on Election Day

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced Friday that people will not be allowed to openly carry guns "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" on Election Day. 

"The presence of firearms at the polling place, clerk's office(s), or absent voter counting board may cause disruption, fear, or intimidation for voters, election workers, and others present," Benson wrote in her memo.  

Individuals can leave their firearms in their cars within 100 feet of a building if they are legally allowed to do so. Benson also noted that concealed carry will not be allowed in any building that already prohibits the practice. 

The announcement comes amid rising fears of violence on Election Day. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel told Showtime's "The Circus" that they are preparing for "every potential scenario" on Election Day.

"The most important thing is this, we don't want people to harass voters when they are in the process of exercising what is a fundamental right, which is their right to vote," she said. "And I feel like it's my job to do everything I can to ensure there is a safe and secure vote, and I'm hopeful law enforcement will agree." 

Joey Roberts, the president of Open Carry Michigan Inc., said Saturday that his organization doesn't feel Benson has the legal authority to ban openly carrying guns. He said the group is currently discussing its options to fight the ban, and he said "ligation is on the table."

"There's been some talk about some gun bans at the state Capitol and that kind of stuff, and we were aware of that, but this caught us all by surprise," Roberts said. 

Michigan's House and Senate have introduced bills to permanently ban guns at the state Capitol building. In April, armed protesters entered the building in Lansing and stood in the gallery above lawmakers during a protest against coronavirus restrictions.

Benson's action  comes just weeks after the announcement of charges against individuals accused of plotting to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer and storm the state Capitol. Two of the 14 individuals charged were photographed at the April protest.

Whitmer has drawn a direct line between the political rhetoric, especially amid the lockdowns, and the alleged plot to kidnap her. When President Trump mentioned her during a recent rally, the crowd chanted "lock her up" and Mr. Trump said "lock them all up."

Whitmer tweeted shortly after Mr. Trump's comments, "This is exactly the rhetoric that has put me, my family, and other government officials' lives in danger while we try to save the lives of our fellow Americans. It needs to stop."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.