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Gun Rights Under Assault in Michigan

By: Brenden Boudreau

It’s been a challenging couple of weeks for gun owners in Michigan as they find their rights under assault by both Republican and Democrat politicians.

During last week’s legislative session, several Capitol insiders confirmed that the Republican legislative leadership of the Michigan House of Representatives started flirting with banning the lawful carry of firearms in Michigan’s Capitol building.

Seemingly caving to pressure from the radical anti-gun Left and the mainstream media, Republican lawmakers are feeling the need to “do something” on guns after a group of domestic terrorists were arrested for plotting to kidnap Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Thanks to an outpouring of opposition generated by Great Lakes Gun Rights, lawmakers seemingly tabled that idea, but the threat is still very much alive.

By the end of the week, Democrat Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson granted herself the unilateral authority to ban the lawful open carry of firearms in polling places statewide, based on a very liberal and shaky interpretation of state law provided by the state’s radical Democrat Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Republicans Consider Banning Carry in Michigan’s Capitol

Michigan’s Capitol is one of the most open, gun friendliest building in the nation, lacking the prison-esque metal detectors witnessed in most state capitols.

In its more than 100-year history and to the chagrin of the gun control lobby, there has not been a single incident in the building. Since every gun owner knows that so called “gun free zones” are magnets for bad actors, logic dictates that the safety record of Michigan’s Capitol building is not an anomaly.

But after protesters showed up at the Capitol earlier this Spring in opposition to Governor Whitmer’s unilateral shutdown of the state in response to the coronavirus, the battle over banning firearms in the Capitol has been percolating ever since.

And it all seems to be coming to a head in the last weeks before the election and is expected to pour over into a lame-duck session scheduled to take place soon after the November 3rd election.

Capitol insiders are reporting that Republican legislative leadership, including House Speaker Lee Chatfield and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, are flirting with trying to cut a deal with Democrats on banning firearms in some fashion for some other legislative policy.

So after Republicans beg for the votes of gun owners to keep them in power, it appears they are preparing to turn around and vote for gun control.

Is it any wonder why gun owners have trust issues with the Republican Party?

Further confirming that a gun ban is being considered is the fact that two conservative-leaning Republican State Representatives are open to banning guns in the Capitol.

Republican State Rep. Matt Hall (District 63) told the Detroit News he would support banning open carry in the galleries “at minimum,” leaving the door wide open for something even more restrictive.

His term-limited colleague Rep. Aaron Miller (District 59) said that he “would only want to ban open carry in the whole building or just in the galleries.”

In the same article, House Speaker Lee Chatfield repeated that he believes that only the legislature has authority to ban guns in the Capitol, which means the table is being set for the Republican-controlled legislature to hold a vote on banning guns in the lame-duck session after the election.

While many gun owners may not see value in defending the right to carry in Michigan’s Capitol building, the fact is that if politicians are willing to ban the lawful carry of firearms in the Capitol, they’ll ban them anywhere.

The Republican-controlled Legislature voting to ban guns in the Capitol is a terrible precedence and will only set the table for more gun control.

Secretary of State Bans Open Carry at Polling Places, Facing Lawsuit

The Democrat-controlled executive branch of Michigan has made a habit of ignoring the other branches of government, and even the plain understanding of state law, in their quest to push their agenda unchecked. Secretary Benson’s open carry ban within 100 feet of polling places, in clerks’ offices, inside polling locations, or at absent voter counting boards is just the latest example.

Benson has taken state law that gives her “supervisory” authority over Michigan’s elections and twisted it to mean that she can deem the lawful open carry of firearms at polling places to be a form of “voter intimidation” --- something that exists nowhere in state law.

Not only is this a clear violation of state law, but it is yet another clear attempt by Democrats to demonize gun ownership in Michigan and treat gun owners as second-class citizens.

In a press release dated October 16th, Second Amendment Attorney Dean Greenblatt said, “[T]he Secretary of State’s new dictate effective[ly] disenfranchises voters who wish to exercise their fundamental right of self-protection” and “requires that voters either abandon their Second Amendment right of self-protection or their fundamental right to vote.”

Greenblatt goes on to say that, “[T]his Hobson’s choice disproportionately effects persons of color who may live in higher crime areas in clear violation of the Voting Rights Act.”

Several County Sheriffs, including Livingston County Sheriff Michael Murphy, and Director of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police Robert Stevenson, have come out saying that the Secretary of State’s directive has no legal basis and is therefore unenforceable.

Several gun groups are now gearing up for a lawsuit against the Secretary of State’s edict. It’s unclear if a victory in court is possible before Election Day, but it’s a crucial fight no less. If this latest power grab by the Democrat Secretary of State goes unchecked, there’s no telling what they will try next.

Brenden Boudreau is the Director of Field Operations for the National Association for Gun Rights, writing from Michigan. Contact him at bpb@nagrhq.org.

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