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Michigan Secretary of State Benson can’t write state gun laws

Michigan’s top elected officials have serious problems staying in their lanes.

The state Supreme Court had to rebuke Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for setting aside the Legislature to take unilateral control of the state during the COVID-19 emergency.

And now Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is way overstretching her constitutional authority to rewrite the state’s firearms laws.

The secretary issued an order Friday banning the open carry of pistols and rifles near polling places.

Michigan has very specific laws detailing where firearms can and can’t be carried. There are very few restrictions on where a gun can be openly carried.

Benson might not think that’s a good idea, and we may agree.

But the Constitution does not give her the power to write and impose new laws. That’s the Legislature’s role.

This is not an election policy change that is within her purview. Michigan has established firearms laws that Benson’s order would change.

No matter how worthy her intent, Michigan officials can’t continue to subvert representative governing.

If banning openly carried weapons at polling places is a good idea, the secretary should ask the Legislature to change existing law.

By acting unilaterally, Benson is setting up needless confrontations between officers enforcing her rule and open-carry advocates. The latter are well-versed in their rights under Michigan law — and often eager to flout arbitrary overreaches of administrative authority.

Michigan taxpayers should not have to pay for another expensive lawsuit to stop another would-be monarch. Benson should withdraw the rule and either adhere to existing law or urge lawmakers to change it.

— The Detroit News

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